Warmachine: Earthbreaker – Dwarves Only Edition


Are you one of those elusive Rhulic only players? Well this is probably the most exciting month you’ve had in awhile.

When you play a faction as starved for options as Searforge Comission, every new release is a blessing. While I’m not a true Rhulic-only player I do occasionally enjoy bringing out the dwarf and Ogrun elements from my larger mercenary army and letting them have some time away from the humans and other assorted riffraff they share a shelf with. Thus I’ve been suitably stoked to see the Earthbreaker headed my way. While I’ve only just now laid my hands on one, I have spent the past few months thinking about how to use it.

So why go Searforge with your Earthbreaker when Highborn and Four Star have so many options? The core reason is the same one that’s had people playing Rhul since it became an option. Rhulic armes are fun. No, not fun because they’ll roflstomp whoever you happen to be fighting against.  Searforge is fun because there’s a certain weird joy in bringing an army that sacrifices options in exchange for character. If you’re a wargamer you understand – even if you don’t understand hard enough to bother with your own Searforge army. And that’s probably because Searforge’s lack of options continues to translate into them being a less than optimal fighting force. The Earthbreaker and the Tactical Arcanist Corps released earlier this year help with this tremendously but the Protectorate and Cryx can still bring some armies that are nearly impossible to beat with the options available to Searforge. One big help will come from the extra four inches of deployment zone you’ll get if you go all Rhul. That helps. Especially when your colossal – hell, almost your entire army – will be lurching along at SPD 4. It’s a lot harder for your opponent to deny your slow-moving army an objective when you get to start that much further up the field.
Regardless of which mercenary contract you field your Earthbreaker with, there’s one dwarf you should bring along as its constant companion. Thor Steinhammer’s Tune-up will almost feel like cheating when you apply it to your new Colossal. Whether you’re boosting all the attack rolls for a Sweep Power Attack, or the up to eight potential ranged attacks your six-legged monstrosity can dish out, you may find yourself forgetting Thor can also repair warjacks when he needs to. But you probably won’t forget he can choose to boost damage rolls instead. This can come in handy when there are a horde of models to cover up with both of the Earthbreaker’s four inch blast templates, or when you find yourself confronted with a nut too hard to crack with 5 P+S 20 attacks.

It’s hard to pick a number one caster to run the Earthbreaker with. I think I’ve ultimately put Ossrum here at the top because of Snipe. That extra four inches of range can give the Earthbreaker an additional turn of shooting with those magnificent guns before it gets engaged. And if the situation warrants, you can slap on Fire for Effect when the enemy gets a little closer – although it does cost quite a bit to cast. Ossrum also has Unstoppable force, which is great because Bulldoze on a Colossal is just silly. No, it won’t let you push your opponent’s army halfway across the board, but it can get you a lot more enemy models crammed into the two inch arc of a Sweep Power Attack. You might even catch your opponent off guard and Bulldoze your way into melee range of something they thought would be out of your bogged-down Earthbreakers reach.

Then of course there’s Ossrum’s Feat which will add +2 to any Rhulic model’s SPD and ARM. Just an extra 2″ might not seem like much with the Earthbreaker starting at a lowly 4, but you never know when it might help you get the drop on something. And with so many Especially when Bulldoze can help you shove models out of the way. And even just one turn of +2 ARM can help – especially when you’re dealing with one of the most resilient Colossals in the game.

Ossrum’s theme list, State of War, gives you some really cool options. Ok, yes, I know if you go theme you’re not technically going Searforge anymore, but relax – it’s even more dwarf-y since there are no Ogrun allowed. Besides, the free upkeeps are great, and the extra SPD for your warjacks turn one along with a unit getting AD almost makes up for the loss of your extra 4″ deployment zone. Still, I think I’d go ahead with this list regardless of whether I was going Searforge or State of War.

 General Ossrum – WJ: +5
– Ghordson Earthbreaker – PC: 19
– Grundback Blaster – PC: 3

Brun Cragback – PC: 9
– Lug
Thor Steinhammer – PC: 2
Lord Rockbottom – PC: 2

Hammerfall High Shield Gun Corps – Leader & 5 Grunts: 5
Tactical Arcanist Corps – Leader & 2 Grunts: 4
Horgenhold Forge Guard – Leader & 9 Grunts: 8
Herne & Jonne – Herne and Jonne: 3

If there’s a blessing to playing a faction with a limited force selection, it’s that army building is fairly straightforward. Still, it wouldn’t be much of an article if I didn’t explain my choices. So let’s start at the top. Blasters are pretty much in all my Searforge lists. Only the Rhulics get a spray that for one focus can boost all attack and damage rolls. It’s also just about the most resilient three points in the game. It does have a special purpose when there’s a Colossal around. Those 120mm bases are often a magnet for infantry. If someone tries to bog down the Earthbreaker by throwing bodies at it, the Blaster will be there to clean them out. Sure it might not get all of them, but the more you clear the easier it will be to abuse Bulldoze when the Earthbreaker activates.

Brun Cragbrack and Lug are another one of my favorite Searforge options. And since Brun is a Rhulic Solo he can be included in State of War and bring Lug along with. They don’t have any particular synergy here, but they’re an incredibly self sufficient flanking force that absolutely cannot be ignored. They’re also one of the coolest things about Searforge, so I kinda hate to leave them out. Rockbottom is mostly just filler, although I don’t really begrudge having to take him. For two points he’s rat 6 with a fire causing spray and can help with the occasional command check. Of course what I’d really love to see is the Rhulics get access to more solos. Another two-pointer would be great, but a one-pointer with FA 3 – something cool and helpful like the Retribution’s Arcanist or the new Algorithmic Dispersion Optifex for Convergence – man I’d love to get a dwarf like that.

The Forge Guard will be my AD unit. They’re slow, so any help in getting across the battlefield is useful. Despite their high ARM I typically lose a lot of these guys to shooting. AD also lets me deploy them in front of the Earthbreaker and still have it begin the battle all the way forward. A nice screen of infantry is helpful to screen your colossal from charges.

If you’re running Searforge, you almost have to take at least one unit of the Tactical Arcanist Corps. These are your best defense against incorporeal threats. Searforge’s only other option is to have your warcaster sling spells at them and that will cost you valuable focus. And you want to take down those pistol Wraiths no matter what it takes. Letting them Death Chill your Colossal is not an option.

Herne & Jonne will be the target for Fire for Effect. Because of the nature of Scatter Shot you’ll actually get to boost all three of Jonne’s Barrage Arquebus’ blasts. As for the High Shields… well they’re the real filler. If I owned the models, I’d almost certainly sub a min unit of Forge Guard in instead. You really need your High Shields at full strength with a UA for them to be effective. And there are other things I’d rather have in this list for the points. Still, even a min unit can hang back and pick off some bad guys here and there.

Up next it’s the original Rhulic Warcaster Gorten Grundback. When I started playing this game, the only two dwarfs that existed were Herne and this guy. Don’t worry, I’m not reminiscing just to get sentimental. I only bring it up because the Earthbreaker brings back an old trick that was pretty much invalidated when Warmachine switched to the MKII ruleset. That’s right I’m talking about the return of the dwarf toss! While there’s still no way for Gorten to stand back up after being tossed, an Earthbreaker under strength of Granite can chuck him so far (up to ten inches) that it is once again viable to toss the little guy ahead of the rest of the force just so he can get the drop on your opponent with his feat. Will this win you all your games? Probably not. While his feat is still really strong, it doesn’t allow you to push Huge Based models. In case you haven’t noticed there are a lot of those around these days. The SPD debuff that will also happen as a consequence of Landslide will suck for whoever you’re fighting, but it won’t push a Colossal off an objective or pull it into a trap. Still its cool to know that the trick is back, even if its not quite what it used to be.

Even though I don’t have plans to go dwarf tossing all the time, Gorten still has some cool tricks up his sleeve. I think my favorite thing about him is his Rock Wall. A wall template will protect you from a lot of enemy charges. Even against foes with Pathfinder, careful placement of a wall template can leave your opponent with nowhere to place a model’s base. Then of course there’s Stength of Granite. +4 strength on a P+S 20 model that can boost all it’s damage rolls might seem like overkill, but the state of the game right now involves a lot of high ARM. And when you can dish out that much pain you can take out multiple heavy targets per turn. Finally, while this has nothing to do with the Earthbreaker, I just want to point out how insanely cool molten metal is against enemy Colossals.

Here’s a list:

Gorten Grundback – WJ: +7
– Ghordson Earthbreaker – PC: 19

Thor Steinhammer – PC: 2
Ogrun Bokur – PC: 3
Brun Cragback – PC: 9
– Lug

Hammerfall High Shield Gun Corps – Leader & 9 Grunts: 8
– Hammerfall High Shield Officer & Standard – Hammerfall High Shield Officer & Standard 3
Horgenhold Forge Guard – Leader & 5 Grunts: 5
Tactical Arcanist Corps – Leader & 2 Grunts: 4
Tactical Arcanist Corps – Leader & 2 Grunts: 4

I find I run Gorten with Searforge a little differently than I run him with Four Star or Highborn. When it came out a few years back the High Shield UA really mixed up my Gorten game. With these guys having the ability to shoot and move, I suddenly found that with Landslide I could get three consecutive turns of shooting out of them. Their ability to retreat means that in order to pin them down my opponents often have to run something in to engage them after their initial turn of shooting. I would usually follow this up with a Landslide turn pushing the enemy army back before I had the High Shields unleash Guns Blazing; that’s 22 potential shots against an enemy army at -3 DEF. Then with their SPD dropped, the enemy force would have a hard time getting back into melee with my dwarfs giving me yet another turn of shooting. Of course with all the firepower its packing, I’m worried the Earthbreaker might completely invalidate my poor High shields. But I refuse to replace them with a full unit of Forge Guard and a Blaster before I’ve at least had a chance to try them out a couple times in this brave new world of Rhulic Colossals.

Since Gorten usually has to put himself so far out into harms way to use his feat, at least one Bokur for Shield Guard is indispensable. And because he just barely has enough focus to load up the Earthbreaker and recast Rockwall to make sure its where you need it, Brun and Lug are more important for him than any other Rhulic caster. And if you’re wondering about the double TACs, well, did I mention how Rhulics desperately need a 1 point solo? The only other thing to do with those points really is to fill out the Forge Guard – but that would leave me with a point hanging. I really did have to think about it, but I eventually convinced myself three Arcanist Corps are better than four Forge Guard. Well, in this list anyway.

Does Durgen really deserve to be last on the list? It’s a tough call. His Feat, Bombs Away, is a little less exciting with the Earthbreaker around since Thor can sort of achieve the same effect on the model every turn – and then some. Inhospitable Ground also lacks the luster it used to have since any Huge based models will automatically ignore it. Let’s face it, Inhospitable Ground has always been kind of unreliable. Then there’s the fact that the Earthbreaker itself can pump out two 4″ zones of difficult terrain if it has too. When it comes to other spells, there’s Explosivo which can give a model a single AoE per turn. While it can give the Earthbreaker a magical attack reducing reliance on the Arcanist Corps, its still not the most exciting spell for the Colossal. Of course Redline is fantastic, especially since the big guy has the hit boxes to not have to worry too much about d3 damage per turn. It’s also the only way outside of Ossrum’s feat to get the Earthbreaker moving faster.

Durgen Madhammer – WJ: +6
– Ghordson Earthbreaker – PC: 19
– Grundback Blaster – PC: 3

Brun Cragback – PC: 9
– Lug
Thor Steinhammer – PC: 2
Ogrun Bokur – PC: 3

Herne & Jonne – Herne and Jonne: 3
Tactical Arcanist Corps – Leader & 2 Grunts: 4
Hammerfall High Shield Gun Corps – Leader & 5 Grunts: 5
Horgenhold Forge Guard – Leader & 9 Grunts: 8

At this point I think most of these choices are self explanatory. While I haven’t tried it yet, I do think primed on the Arcanist Corps could be a lot of fun. Not only will it bring them up to a pretty substantial P+S 15, but the POW 14 blast they’ll unleash when killed will create some interesting dillemas for your opponent when you pair it with Vortex of Flame. If your opponent kills them they explode. Leave them alive and they’ll catch you on fire. There’s even the chance that Inhospitable Ground will help the overcome their low SPD stat. Also, with Explosivo to dish out, Durgen makes a min unit of High Shields seem a little more viable – but only just.

~Yes, the Searforge Comission are a lot of fun, and more competitive now than ever, but if you really want to win games you’re probably better off taking one of the larger mercenary contracts. And that’s while I’ll be back later to talk about my favorite Earthbreaker lists for Four Star and or High Born. But first there’s going to be at least one painting article. In the meantime, since this is just a theory-crafting article, go ahead and share your own Searforge Earthbreaker lists or at least let me know what you think of mine. Do I like Brun & Lug too much or are they still relevant?

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