The 9th Age/Tactics/Dwarven Holds

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The fair use The 9th Age expy of the Dwarfs of Warhammer Fantasy.

Why play Dwarven Holds[edit]

love dwarfs, love being an unflinching bunker, prefer to make your own custom enchantments rather than picking from the predetermined items list.


The tactics are current as of second edition.

Army Rules[edit]

Hewn out of Mountains All spells cast by your opponent have their casting value increased by 1. Effectively magic resistance 1 for every single one of your models. Not a huge boost, but is so widespread will screw with your opponent's magic phases.

Ancient Grudge First, you get one grudge for a general with ancestral memory, for each king, and two for each war throne. Before the battle starts, mark one enemy unit for each grudge, your models gain hatred when fighting marked units. Makes those big scary units easier to take down.

Holdstone One use only, lasts until the unit is no longer engaged in close combat. The unit treats every single facing as its front facing. This means no flanking bonuses for your opponent, rules like parry and shield wall applying to every single facing, and your guys can make supporting attacks to every facing. Dwarfs are durable and the holdstone proves it. Run a big block of clansmen deep and bait your enemy into an unwinnable grind.

Rune of Resonance When a battle rune is cast anywhere on the table by a friendly model, a unit that has a rune of resonance can be chosen as an additional target of that battle rune, ending the rune of resonance. Gives you options to buff your wide ranging units from the backlines.

Ancestral Memory May be taken by your general, +1 grudge.

The Bigger They Are... Models with this rule gain swiftstride when charging units with any large or gigantic models. Dwarfs are surprisingly fast.

Shield Wall When using a shield models with this rule gain Aegis 6+ vs close combat attacks in the front facing. This aegis save is improved to 5+ against charging models. Better and less restricted than parry.

Sturdy Devastating Charge (+1 Str and AP) and no to-hit penalties for stand-and-shoot charge reactions. All of your dwarfs have this, abuse it.

Yer Comin' With Me! Close combat attacks by this model can never wound on worse than 4+. When this model is removed as a casualty (unless by impact hits) in close combat it immediately makes a single close combat attack with str 5 ap 2. Makes units with this rule scary to be stuck in combat with.


Guild-Crafted Handgun A normal handgun but is accurate. Has +1 AP on the crossbow, but 6" shorter range. Accurate makes the handgun better in most situations unless your opponent also has long ranged options.

Wyrm-Slayer Rocket Same range as the handgun with better str/ap (and multiple wounds and flaming attacks) but is more mobile (go figure). Only downside is it can't be used for a stand and shoot reaction, but you should have killed anything dangerous with this thing before they got into charge range.

Forge Repeater Short range (only 18"), but 4 shots and quick to fire makes this a scary gun with a large threat range.

Battle Runes[edit]

Dwarfs don't have a hereditary spell, but they have essentially their own magic path of cheap to cast buffs. Each one is a bound spell (5/8) so your magic phases will be consistent with no randomness. Runesmiths cast them with a range of 12", Anvil of Power casts them with a range of 36".

Rune of Revocation All other spells with duration: one turn affecting the target immediately end. In addition, the next spell targeting this unit (including aura and attribute spells) is automatically dispelled. Gives dwarfs great control in the magic phase.

Rune of Reckoning The target re-rolls failed to-hit rolls in close combat. Dwarfs already have good offensive skill, now your just making them all hit.

Rune of Oaths The target re-rolls failed to-wound rolls in close combat. Read rune of reckoning above, now make all those hits more likely to wound as well. If your opponent let you get both of these runes off you've pretty much won the game.

Rune of Resolve The target performs a 6" magical move. People will tell you the downside to dwarfs are how slow they are. Sure they only have a 3" advance, but they have a 9" march, outpacing humans (8") and almost keeping up with elves (10"), and now add in this rune and your opponent who believed in slow dwarfs will be quickly outmaneuvered.

Rune of Gleaming The target gains hard target (1) and distracting. If your opponent hits first (you are dwarfs, so it is likely) and you aren't sure if your dwarfs will survive that first strike, this is the rune to take.

Rune of Resilience All to-wound rolls against the target suffer a -1 modifier. Normal troops will be wounding on 5+ normally, and now it's 6+. Because this is a modifier to the roll, not to strength or resilience, even if the enemy model is strength 10, it's dropping the to-wound roll from 2+ to 3+.

Unit Analysis[edit]


Any character that can be general has the option to take Ancestral Memory (if it is general), you should shell out for it to give all your units hatred against at least one enemy unit.

King Great offensive stats, high resilience, and good agility (for a dwarf). He doesn't have a huge amount of options for mundane equipment, but he makes up for that with a huge allowance for runic items. Always give him a shield, even if you are running a great weapon. If you can, shell out for at least the shieldbearers, having a 1+ character with an absurd number of attacks that can hide in huge infantry blocks is worth it.

Thane Your baby king that can be BSB. As above, give him shieldbearers for the extra armor, health, and attacks.

Dragon Seeker Your seeker character, not allowed to be general. His only options are for Monster Seeker: gains multiple wounds vs large and gigantic models, or Grims Resolve: +1 attack for each model in base contact. Don't expect him to live to the end of the game. Kit him to fight something scary on the other side of the table and have him run right for it and kill it before he goes down.

Runic Smith Not as melee-competent as the above options and lacks the options for ranged weapons, but runes are great. He gives the unit he's in +1 AP on their melee attacks and can take up to 3 runes for an absurdly cheap points cost.

Engineer Not only buffs your war machines to-hit on 3+, but entrenches them, giving them hard cover as long as they don't move. Engineer does not prevent him from using his own shooting weapon. Give him a hand gun or rocket so he can hang in the back and take potshots.

Anvil of Power It's your magic war machine. It won't be moving much, but with it's huge range, good defenses, and selection of runes, your opponent will have trouble dealing with it.

Character Mounts[edit]

Shield Bearers Thane or King only. +1 health and +2 armor is amazing on its own, now add in 2 additional attacks and you can still hide it in your infantry. Always take it whenever you can.

War Throne King only. +3 health and +2 armor, tank up your king for cheap, and also add 4 attacks, an increased inspiring presence range, hatred, and the bonus grudges. The downside is it costs about as much as a second king, but it is worth the cost.


Clan Warriors Your beard and ale. They are surprisingly cheap for what they bring to the table, but you will be spending more on them depending on what you want to do. Depending on what you're fighting, they can take great weapons to take on elite infantry or heavy cavalry. Spears and Shields is the best all around choice. Hand Weapons and Shields are useful if your fighting extremely high offensive skill enemies where parry would actually help. Throwing weapons are generally a pass, but every so often they can chip on something. One unit of up to 30 can take vanguard, again, your opponent will think your dwarfs are slow, and then you will be in close combat on turn 2.

Greybeards Warriors with +1 offensive/defensive skill, str, AP, and a mini BSB effect. Generally a pass, they fill the same roll as clan warriors while being more expensive. Could some times throw one in between two other Clan Warriors?

Core + Clans' Thunder[edit]

Clan Marksmen Tanky ranged guys, but are pretty expensive. Always give them shields, will help them soak counter fire and beat down on any flankers. In the same vein, they can also take great weapons to surprise people. Crossbows have longer range but worse to-hit at longer ranges, handguns have better AP and to hit but shorter range. If you're fighting elves (of any variety) take the crossbows so you can out trade them at their long ranges, anyone else you can dump on them with the handguns.


Deep Watch The brick to out-brick all bricks. A 3+/5++ in close combat is all they are, your opponent will have trouble burning through them.

King's Guard 2 attack great weapon infantry with a 3+ against shooting and gain stubborn if a king is rolling with them. Will murder anything you throw them at. The way a war throne ranks up with them will hurt their number of attacks to the front but not enough to really hurt their total damage output.

Miners Essentially Clan Warriors that can pop in anywhere. If you give them ranged weapons they additionally count towards clans' thunder, which depending on who you're fighting can help out. Shields are never a bad option, but be careful to spend a lot of points on what is essentially a suicide wizard hunter.

Rangers Scouting warriors stats wise. Give them shooting weapons and skirmisher to out fire other ranged units, otherwise, use them as +3Arm roadblock if a vanguarding warriors and Seekers are not enough.

Seekers Defenseless besides Aegis (6+), but at least they're unbreakable. Run them into enemy lines and hope they make it before they get shot off the table. Always take vanguard on them to get them into combat faster.

Vengeance Seeker A solo seeker with slightly better defenses (has distracting and hard target). If you get him into CC he'll do work. He hits first always (same step as impact hits). Better value than regular seekers.

Hold Guardians Automatons attack! Dwarfs have monstrous infantry damn straight. Faster than all of your other infantry, only held down by their small unit size. A unit or two of these are great flankers.

Grudge Buster A pretty quick flying Chariot unit. Has mediocre shooting but amazing defenses, 1d6+1 impact hits, and 3d3 grind attacks. will Mulch throw most infantry with its propeller blades.

Clans' Thunder[edit]

Forge Wardens Short ranged (only 18") with relatively weak attacks that are flaming but always hit on 2+. If your enemy is trying to run some hard target or cover shenanigans these guys will burn them anyways, but you might be better off with more marksmen.

Steam Copters Always equipped with the forge repeater and is by far your fastest unit. Comes in two varieties:

  • Attack Copter: come in units of up to 2 models. They are cheap and can drop some little bombs once per game.
  • Steam Bomber: single model units. Drops bombs dealing d6x2 hits. Not incredibly strong, but that is a lot of hits. If a natural 6 is rolled it can't be used anymore. The randomness is the main handicap.

Engines of War[edit]

Field Artillery All of your siege engines lumped into one entry. Each one has 3 things in common. 1: add +4 to any misfire rolls, keeps your artillery up and running. 2: maybe upgraded with magic flaming attacks, be sure to mock your Undying Dynasties opponent. 3: they each have a upgraded form.

  • Dwarf Ballista: Your cheapest option and is still nutty good. Has decent strength, insane AP, and can be upgraded to be accurate all the way out to 48". Use it to snipe monsters, lone characters, and small elite units.
  • Flame Cannon: It's a flamethrower and can be used to troll the proper opponents. Don't bother upgrading it, it may let you shot standard size enemies behind the front line but it also makes it easier to be shot at.
  • Catapult: Tied for your longest ranged weapon, is consistent against large units, but suffers from mediocre str/AP. This can be remedied by upgrading it, giving it consistent str 4 AP 2.
  • Cannon: The other long-ranged weapon. The classic fuck you to monsters. Being able to pound a monster with Str 10 AP 10 is quite the shutdown. Can also be fired as a volley gun at close range, probably won't use it much but can discourage flankers from getting too close.
  • Organ Gun: Same range as your crossbows and 2d6x2 shots. Anything that gets too close can just get deleted by the number of shots you can throw down at any moment. upgraded adds +1 to wound rolls.

Dwarven Runes[edit]

Dwarfs do not get to choose special equipment from the normal rulebook (except for enchanted standards). Weapons, Armor, and Talismans can each hold up to 3 runes, each rune combination is a unique special item that cannot be duplicated in an army.

Weapon Runes[edit]

Only hand weapons or paired weapons may be engraved with runes.

Rune of Destruction Attacks made with this weapon gain multiple wounds (d3). A 1/3 chance to one shot most characters, will also take about 1/3 of a king's entire magical allowance.

Rune of Smashing When attacking a model with resilience 5 or more gain Str 10 and AP 10. Ask your opponent where his favorite monster is and kill it in 2 turns.

Rune of Penetration Weapons with one or more of these runes gain +3 AP. 4 AP is functionally all you'll need against most armies.

Rune of Might For each rune of might on a weapon it gains +1 str and AP. One or two of these and your dwarf can open up anything.

Rune of Precision The wielder gains lightning reflexes. Functionally a +1 to-hit in melee. With your "spells" and already high offensive skill, tends to be a bit overkill.

Rune of Craftsmandwarfship the weapon becomes a great weapon. The only way to get a great weapon with runes. Agility 4 isn't much, but will go before most armies on the charge. But is equal to 2 runes of might at the cost of losing out on agility 4.

Rune of Quickening For each one you gain +3 agility. If you want to go first, take one of these, it should be enough unless you're fighting elves or the like.

Rune of Fury For each one you gain +1 attack. More attacks is always nice, and getting to throw 10 dice just for your king's attacks is always fun.

Rune of Lightning if the wielder successfully hits (not wounds) with this weapon, at the end of combat it deals d3 additional hits for each of this rune. A great way to chunk out more hits on either a solo model or grind down a horde.

Rune of Returning The weapon can be used as a shooting weapon with range 8", aim 2+, str and ap as user, quick to fire and accurate. Can't be used during a stand-and-shoot reaction. A fun way to get some extra damage on your king.

Rune of Fire Attacks with this weapon are flaming. Self Explanatory.

Armour Runes[edit]

Rune of Resistance Successful to-wound rolls against the wearer must be re-rolled. Your opponent will be lucky to get 2 wounds off your king by the end of the game.

Rune of Steel The bearer re-rolls failed armor saves. Combo with above to never take any hits.

Rune of Retribution Whenever the bearer makes a successful shield wall save the attacking model takes a hit at the saved attacks' strength and AP. Invest in it to make it worthwhile, but will make your character scary to fight.

Rune of Iron +1 armor each, max +2. Not necessary on a king or thane, but can get that sweet 1+ on your runesmith.

Rune of the Forge the bearer gains Aegis 2+ vs flaming attacks. Niche, but cheap and powerful against the right enemies.

Talismanic Runes[edit]

Up to 3 runes form a single talisman (so you can smash in 6 talisman runes if you want to). A model can only have 1 dominant rune.

Rune of Denial One use only, auto-dispell an enemy spell. A handy tool to have, always take one.

Rune of Devouring One use only, done instead of attempting a dispell. The spell goes off as normal but the casting model can't cast that spell for the rest of the game (does not effect attribute spells). Can ruin the day of a low level caster or by deleting the H spell from those pesky vampires.

Rune of Harnessing Enemy models within 24" reduce their channel value by 1. Can cap your opponents magic phases, you just have to get your runesmith close to the enemy wizards first.

Rune of Courage One use only, makes the bearer stubborn for the rest of the phase. Can make your tarpit hold out for an extra round while you line up a charge.

Rune of Dragon's Breath The bearer gains a breath attack. Only a single friendly rune of dragon's breath may be used per round of combat. Can really beef up your attacks when grinding.

Rune of Grounding One use only, all spells with duration: one turn affecting the bearer's unit and any enemy units in base combat with the bearer end immediately. Can really screw your opponent's buffs or hexes.

Rune of Readiness One use only, use after all charges against the bearer's unit have been resolved. The bearer's unit may make a combat reform before combat starts. If you don't have a holdstone on hand, this will do the job against one unit.

Rune of Storms One use only, use at the start of your opponent's phase. Pick an enemy unit within 24", all models with fly in that unit have their advance and march rates halved (for normal and flying movement).

Rune of Shielding The bearer gains Aegis +1 (max 4+). This only stacks with itself and/or shieldwall. Combo with rune of retribution to have an unkillable melee monster.

Rune of Mastery One use only. Add +2/+2 to the power level of a bound spell for it's casting this turn. Can make a rune available when you need it to be.

Rune of Mining Choose one terrain feature before the battle begins. As long as the bearer of this rune is on the table all friendly models treat that terrain feature as open terrain.

Rune of Kinship The bearer gains scout and ambush. Can't be taken by war thrones so no 6 HP duel monsters popping in from the backline.

Runic Banners[edit]

can use Common Banner Enchantments inaction to Runic Banners. A Battle Standard Bearer may take any 2 combinations of Common & Runic Banners

Runic Standard of Shielding All friendly units within 6" of the bearer gain aegis 5+ vs shooting attacks.

Runic Standard of Swiftness The bearer's unit gains vanguard.

Runic Standard of Dismay Units charging the bearer's unit suffer -2" advance.

Runic Standard of Steadiness one use only, the bearer's unit gains quick-to-fire until the end of the turn. Suddenly your handguns and crossbows have a much bigger threat range.

Runic Standard of the Anvil Friendly units charging enemy units engaged with the bearer re-roll failed charge rolls.

Runic Standard of Wisdom Select a single battle rune at the beginning of the game. The battle rune can be cast by the bearer with range: caster's unit.

Runic Standard of the Hold a unit with one or more of these runes count as an additional full rank for the purposes of steadfast and disrupted.

Rune Combos[edit]

Thor's Hammer: Rune of Lightning + Rune of Returning. Lets you throw and have your hammer explode into 1+ D3 hits.

The 9th Age Tactics