Chaos Dwarf Blockers Overview:
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For years the Blockers on the Chaos Dwarf team were identical to their kin on the Dwarf team. Recently though they gained access to Mutations harking back to even earlier editions of the rules and to make them a bit more “Chaotic” then their brethren. Generally their role on the pitch doesn’t really differ a great degree even though their team mates are vastly different. Their stat line of being slow, but well armoured with low agility means they are pretty much only going to be used for marking and hitting things unless a drive takes an unexpected turn. Being Dwarves they have Thick Skull which combined with their high armour keeps them on the pitch quite a lot. Starting with Block and Tackle means they can block with success more often than not and strength skill access on normal skills gives them a great selection to go hand in hand with that. Mutation access really has just given them the ability to get Claw with none of the others being overly useful for their job demands.
Given their low agility though they can suffer from slow development, but at least starting with Block and Tackle can go a little way to mitigating that issue. They also have a reasonable cost and along with cheap team mates you will usually see any Chaos Dwarf team with the maximum allowed six Chaos Dwarf Blockers on their roster.
Standard Chaos Dwarf Blocker:
- Normal: Guard, Mighty Blow, Stand Firm, Pro / Piling On / Dauntless / Grab
- Doubles: Claw
- Stat Increase: +ST +MV
I personally find there isn’t really a massive amount of leeway or difference in the development of your Chaos Dwarf Blockers. I would recommend to always start off with Guard as their first normal skill, the only time I wouldn’t is if you have a team that already has a lot of Guard on it. You will be going up against a lot of stronger teams where it will help you get one die blocks and some two die blocks (backed up by your Block skill) and make it harder for them to get two die blocks. Against other similar strength or weaker teams, then Guard will let you dominate the blocking game. After that I would follow up with Mighty Blow which will help remove players off the pitch and also aid in their development. I’ve experimented with Mighty Blow before Guard but the massive decrease in two dice blocks you can get is more detrimental than the benefits of +1 to AV or injury rolls. For a third skill I would get Stand Firm, it helps keep your Guard players exactly where you want them, means you can’t be pushed away from players you are marking and helps control space on the pitch, especially near the sidelines.
At this point you start to run out of really great skills to take and I’d be more than happy to have a team with six built up exactly this way. Some however may reach more skills and I’ve found Pro to be the best fit. It allows you to get a free 50 50 chance of rerolling unsuccessful blocks without wasting your team rerolls. I would still use a team reroll on double skulls though, unless the risk of turnover isn’t critical, I just try it for double pushbacks or pushback skull results etc. Pro can also give you better odds at catching bouncing balls, intercepting and some other agility rolls when you are out of rerolls, like gfi and dare I suggest it, dodges. Some coaches may take Piling On in order to reroll injury rolls, I may consider this on a couple but I like to keep my slow players upright, especially with the other skills they have. Dauntless is another to consider on a couple, especially if your league has a lot of stronger bash teams. Grab could also be of some use, though I’ve yet to personally play a Chaos Dwarf team since it was added. Other options like Fend, Frenzy, Juggernaut don’t really have as great a benefit and I can’t see me selecting these.
For doubles I think most coaches now are going to obviously take Claw, the only real argument against it would be if you are facing a lot of AV7 teams where it is useless. A couple of alternatives to perhaps consider would be Dodge if not facing much Tackle (Block, Dodge, Guard and Stand Firm is a horrible combo to play against and makes them excellent at marking Big Guys), or Side Step if you don’t yet have Stand Firm. Tentacles could be annoying but it is really better on stronger players, so give it more thought if your player also got a strength increase. Prehensile Tail may also be useful if facing a lot of agile teams too.
As far as stat increases are concerned you really are just hoping to get a strength increase though they can be developed to really great players without any stat increases and will also be less team value. Later in development I would also perhaps take a movement increase. In a new team without many skills though your priority will be getting Guard so I would pass it up unless you are happy to take a short term hit for some perhaps more potential long term gain. I’m not convinced there is a massive gain to be had though as they tend to spend most of their team in contact with opposing players and not doing much in the way of movement. An agility increase may be helpful on a rare occasion but not enough for it to be useful and while getting AV10 would be nice, there are skills that are going to be a bigger help overall, especially if you play a lot of Claw teams.
Killer Chaos Dwarf Blocker:
- Normal: Mighty Blow, Piling On, Dauntless / Frenzy / Stand Firm, Guard
- Doubles: Claw
- Stat Increase: +ST
Chaos Dwarf Blocker Summary:
Chaos Dwarf Blockers make up the core of any Chaos Dwarf side, there is nothing fancy or complicated really in their development and they are very good players for the roles they typically perform. I can not stress enough though that you need to get Guard as quickly as possible on nearly all of them. Success can be had mixing it with Mighty Blow, but going Mighty Blow all out first skill on all of them just isn’t as effective, if you only take one thing from this article let it be that.
Another outside skill I didn’t go into is perhaps taking Pass Block on one, especially in pass happy leagues. Even if it just gets one of your players next to one of theirs and doesn’t really affect the passing play, that may mean another block in your next turn and perhaps the removal of an opposing player. Given the lack of passing in most games though it is of very marginal use and should be considered as a late option at best.
If you wanted to play around a bit more with Mutations, then a late double may mean Foul Appearance should be considered. Combined with Block, Guard and Stand Firm, you could have a very hard to shift and annoying player. If you get Dodge as well then expect a lot of opposing players cursing at him and it may even end up having the result that they don’t target him at all, preferring perhaps an easier to shift player. You’ve a lot of small ways to tailor your team once you start getting into the 4th skill and beyond, but for the first three don’t be surprised if every Chaos Dwarf you see has pretty much an identical skillset across teams.