Dwarf teams have a bad reputation with certain coaches, usually because people suggest that games with them are boring. I personally don’t agree with that and I find matches against Dwarfs an strategical cat and mouse game. Like all teams the key to beating Dwarfs is to work against their weakness and obviously for a Dwarf team that would be how slow they are.
There are two main way to take advantage of the Dwarfs slow speed, the first is to try and prevent them caging up and the second more typical game plan is to create a screen to slow their advance down the pitch. Dwarf teams will look to cage up the ball and use their great blocking ability and high armour to try and whittle the number of players down that you have on the pitch. For most teams if you try and mix it up with them you are just going to play into their hands. The key is to try and avoid contact and just create a wall of players they can’t easily get through, or because they are slow, get around.
If you haven’t already then take a read of the cage breaking article. Dwarf teams being slow and not particularly agile aren’t going to be running around throwing the ball, unless you face an unconventional build. If you have some fast and agile players and manage to get a deep kick (either from a favourable scatter, or good use of the Kick skill), then you may be able to get some of your players between their Runners and the rest of the team positioned to create a cage. If you can prevent a cage forming and then get good hits on their ball carrier then give this a go. A turnover score will be terrible for the Dwarfs, they now have to score but have less turns to do it in. This tactic will also usually take advantage of all your players while you still have them. Be warned though, if you don’t think you can pull this off then I wouldn’t attempt it (usually slower teams) as you can end up with players the wrong side of the ball and can’t stop the Dwarven advance. The addition of the Kick Off Return skill also makes it more likely they can get the ball into a cage successfully.
So the alternative is to form up in front of their team to stop the advance, you need columns of two players across the pitch. They can blitz the first one, but don’t have the speed or agility to get past the second. It is important you don’t stay in base contact either as that will usually allow them to create a hole they can start to press through.
Having Block and Wrestle are a great aid as Block will negate the Dwarf advantage of being a Block heavy team, while Wrestle can pull their players down. Their slow players having to spend three movement to stand up will really hinder them. Most Dwarf teams will also tend to have quite a lot of Guard, another reason to try and avoid getting in a scrum. Having some Guard yourself can help make their blocks harder and may give you some more opportunities to try and push them back.
You also need to be careful near the sidelines as they will use their Troll Slayers to remove your players by pushing them off the pitch. This is where Stand Firm or Side Step will come in useful. Both skills also help away from the sidelines too as you can stay in their way, preventing them from choosing where to push you. Lastly Fend can help if you do end up in contact, they won’t be able to follow up after blocks. Also it may eliminate the need to dodge your player away, or leave them in a position to get a two dice block to push the Dwarfs back.
Shorten their Drives
Time wasting on your offence is also something you should be aware of. A short drive is something Dwarfs aren’t designed for and can often struggle with. It makes it more likely they will turnover and you can perhaps get a takeaway score. If you can get a decent amount of your players through the Dwarfs, rather than just run the ball in you may be able to keep the ball safe for a turn or two. This can also happen if the Dwarf team makes the mistake of not leaving anyone deep, if you’ve a very fast player there is a possibility you can stand a square next to the end zone and all the Dwarf players are too far away to reach you. Again be warned that you are better to score than to risk losing it. If they get the ball off you they have two drives to try and win the game either 1-0 or 2-0.
While not that common you need to be careful against some of the Secret Weapon players a Dwarf team can field. If they line up with a Deathroller or Chainsaw player and you have the ball, then scoring quickly can get them sent off. If you are defending then a Deathroller can be avoided using the standard tactics, don’t lose your head just cause he has a a big ST7 player. Against a Chainsaw player you want to try and blitz them as the chainsaw may well let you break their armour instead of having it tearing through your players.
Depending on your priorities on the match there are going to be some useful inducements to take. An extra Apothecary and Bloodweiser Babes can help counter the Dwarf grind plan and hopefully prevent you starting a drive down too many players. The other great option is a Wizard. A fireball can make a great mess of a Dwarven cage. Or if they do try and make a break for it towards the end of a drive, then a lightening bolt can get the ball carrier which may enable you to blitz through to grab the ball. Don’t just use the Wizard early though, you may end up wasting it and the threat of a fireball may play on the mind of the Dwarf coach. It can cause them to spread out a bit more and a positioning mistake or a turnover can give you a shot at hitting the ball carrier.
If you win the coin toss I would always elect to kick against a Dwarf team (read the Kick or Receive article). You are far more likely to succeed defending with a full team of eleven players and the most likely time you will have this is at the start of the match. If your containing game plan works well and you prevent them scoring, then some time wasting before you score yourself should mean you leave the pitch with the win! Just don’t get sucked into having to try and get the ball carrier as this can leave you in a scrum playing into the hands of the Dwarf team.
If you’ve any an extra tips or advice on beating Dwarf teams then please comment below.