Let Loose the Hounds of War

As I have already lamented in another article, the Dogs of War are an army that is being left behind by Warhammer as the game develops. Since the introduction of 6th Edition, all of the armies have now been properly released (some are now in their second incarnation) except for two – the Chaos Dwarfs and the Dogs of War. These armies are both still running on “temporary” lists, and seem likely to do so until they vanish entirely.

But I’m not going to talk about that now. This article is about using the Dogs of War in their current form, and maybe throwing around some ideas about their use that may not have occurred to everyone. The Dogs of War remain a legitimate army, and one of only two (the other being Ogre Kingdoms) that can be fielded alongside almost any other army. This should make them something that every player at least considers, no matter what army they are focused on. Henceforth I shall refer to them as DoW, for the sake of typing less (because I am lazy)1.

Lots of Character

DoW are an army of mercenaries, drawn from all over the Warhammer world. They are the only way you will ever likely find Dwarfs, Orcs, Dark Elves, High Elves, Lizardmen, Undead, Humans and Ogres all fighting under the one banner2. Although admittedly some of them are very similar to one another, DoW boast an amazing 14 Core choices, 14 Special choices and 9 Rare choices (that I can think of). This is a number that dwarfs those of other armies.

It is quite possibly to make an extremely thematic mercenary army, as well. Options such as Dwarfs and Ogres in the Special choices mean you can field an army that is loaded with non-human regiments, even if the core of your army will be human. The human side of things is also flexible, as the choice of Pikemen, Crossbowmen, Duelists, Light Cavalry and Heavy Cavalry mean you can field a wide variety of forces. All-cavalry armies are possible, whether you want lightly armoured Fast Cavalry to perform hit-and-run attacks, or heavily armoured knights to mount a frontal charge. Alternately, some players prefer to field an all-pike core, which many players find intimidating (as an army bristling with scores of pikes means one bristling with scores of attacks that strike first)… 

Lack of Character(s)

The obvious downside to DoW armies when you look at the list is the characters. There are only 5 different character choices, all of which are generic humans – Mercenary General, Mercenary Captain, Paymaster (a Battle Standard Bearer with inferior statistics to the Captain), Hireling Wizard Lord and Hireling Wizard. Many armies offer far more options that this, and even those that only have a similar number of choices still have a major advantage over DoW – magic items.

DoW do not have a list of magic items at all – they have to make do with the Common Magic Items as listed in the Warhammer rulebook. This really shows through when trying to protect characters (in particular the Paymaster, whose death forces Panic tests on the entire army) – a 6+ Ward Save is unlikely to deter any moderately dangerous opponent. This almost forces you to put him on a barded steed in the hope of having a decent armour save, unless you plan to keep him well hidden from the enemy through cunning maneuvering3. There is also a dearth of proper monsters upon which to mount your characters – a Pegasus does not really cut the mustard when asked to stand up to a Griffon or Dragon. 

There is a bright side to the lack of options for DoW characters. Unlike every other army I field, I find myself spending very few points on characters. It is not unusual for me to enter a 2000 point game fielding 400 points or less of characters. This would normally feel like a gamble, however for DoW you have little choice. This leaves you with a whole lot of points with which to buy the rest of your army.

Bonus Characters!

Regiments of Renown offer some measure of compensation for the lack of magic items available to the DoW. Even if your normal characters feel naked and exposed, if you have fielded a few Regiments of Renown, you can comfort yourself with the knowledge that you have several other characters to back them up. It’s true that these other characters can’t leave their respective units, and that they often have little or no protection of their own, however they almost feel like you got them for free anyway, so you shouldn’t care too much4.

The ability to field Regiments of Renown means that it is quite conceivable that you will find yourself with 6 characters scattered around the table, 5 of whom might be hero-level fighters. Not only does this bolster the leadership of their respective units, it enhances their fighting abilities as well. Adding a hero to a regiment is generally the best way to improve its combat potential, and here you can do it to every unit in your army! 

A Change of Tack

One of the things that I have been toying with a lot recently is a slightly different approach to fielding a DoW army. Instead, I do not field a DoW at all. I field a Dwarf or Ogre army, and then load it with mercenaries from the DoW lists. This can be done perfectly legally, and to such an extent that the army more resembles a mercenary force than a Dwarf or Ogre one5.

A lot of players believe that mercenaries can only be fielded as Rare choices in other armies. What they don’t realize is that the Regiments of Renown (as opposed to the normal “vanilla” DoW regiments) have their own restrictions which override the normal standards. The table below is a brief run-down of the various Regiments, and how they can be fielded in other armies.  

Regiment of Renown              DoW               Other 

Pirazzo's Lost Legion               Core                Special (Except Vampire Counts)

Ricco's Republican Guard       Core                Special

Leopold's Leopard Company          Core                Special

Alcatani Fellowship               Core                Special

Vespero's Vendetta                 Core                Special

Braganza's Besiegers              Core                Special (Except Skaven)

Al Muktar's Desert Dogs        Core                Rare (Except Tomb Kings)

Marksmen of Miragliano       Core                Rare (Except Skaven)

Voland's Venators                  Core                Rare

Bearmen of Urslo                   Special            Special (Except High Elves, Wood Elves, Lizardmen)

Lumpin Croop's Fighting Cocks   Special       Rare

Cursed Company                    Special            Rare (Except Tomb Kings, Vampire Counts)

Ruglud's Armoured Orcs        Special            Special (Orcs Only)/Rare (Except High Elves, Wood Elves, Dwarfs)

Oglah Khan's Wolf Boyz       Special            Rare (Except Empire, Dwarfs, High Elves, Wood Elves)

Golgfag's Ogres                      Special            Rare

Long Drong's Slayer Pirates   Special            Rare (Except Chaos Dwarfs, Wood Elves, High Elves, Orcs and Goblins)

Asarnil                                    Rare, Hero      Rare, 2 Hero (High Elves, Wood Elves, Empire, Lizardmen Only)

Bronzino's Galloper Guns      Rare                Rare

Birdmen of Catrazza              Rare                Rare (Empire Only)

Giants of Albion                     2 Rare             N/A

Tichi Huichi's Raiders            Rare                Special (Lizardmen Only)/Rare (Except Chaos, Chaos Dwarfs, Vampire Counts, Skaven, Tomb Kings)

Mengil Manhide's Manflayers   Special          Special (Dark Elves only)/Rare (Except High Elves, Wood Elves, Dwarfs)

In addition to these, you can always field the generic-flavoured DoW units as Rare choices – so you could perhaps slip in Leopold’s Leopard Company and the Bearmen of Urslo as Special choices in your Dwarf army, and still have space for some Mercenary Heavy Cavalry and Ogre Ironguts as Rare choices.

This gives you the opportunity to effectively make an Ogre or Dwarf mercenary general (something that was possible back in 5th edition, with rules released in White Dwarf). All you have to do is theme the army in accordance with the selections you are making. For instance, if you are going to declare it to be a mercenary army, then you really have to field a Battle Standard Bearer (you can use a more appropriate figure), to represent the Paymaster (a compulsory choice in DoW armies). Units that are particularly inappropriate in a mercenary army should probably be avoided, but this is really up to you to decide. 

The Naysayers among You

Those who might complain about the use of mercenary forces in other armies (for whom I have little sympathy, it has to be said) should note that every time you field a DoW unit in the army, you are denying yourself one of the better units that you could have been fielding from that race instead. Special and Rare slots are reserved for elite unit choices. A 2000 point Dwarf army selecting 2 Rare choices of DoW can field no Organ Guns, Flame Cannons or Gyrocopters. A Dark Elf army that does the same will have no Repeater Bolt Throwers, Black Guard or War Hydras. I can understand players getting sick of seeing a Chaos player fielding a mercenary cannon every time he takes the field, however DoW are part of the game and should be regarded as such – they are a legitimate option open to almost all players (apologies to the Bretonnians amongst you, however you have other weapons to play with).

Anytime, Anywhere (almost)…

Unfortunately, it’s worth bearing in mind the possibility that an army such as this will not always be legal in tournaments, because many organizers have taken to banning DoW in other armies (presumably to keep things simple). Where this is the case, there is not much you can do. Just bear in mind that for all that an army such as this might be well within the rules, that doesn’t mean it will be welcome everywhere6.

Fun For All

Themed armies are fun, and mercenaries allow an army to play rather differently from the way it normally might. Why not combine the two and make yourself a mercenary general? A High Elf Prince who has fallen from favour and been banished from the realm, forced to form a ragtag bunch of mercenaries around his few remaining loyal retainers. A Dwarf Lord, forced to fend off bankruptcy by selling his services (and those of his clan) on the field of battle. An Ogre Tyrant roaming the world, making name for himself, or even a Vampire who has decided that warriors can be useful before they’re dead, as well as after. The possibilities are endless.

In short, the inadequacies of the Dogs of War can be addressed, and the army offers a lot of possibilities for mixing up your games and your existing armies. Don’t dismiss them out of hand. See the bottom of the article for an example 2000pt Dwarf Mercenary army, developed in accordance with the Cancon 2007 restrictions (just to prove that you can use armies like this in tournaments)…  

1DoW is not to be mistaken with Homer Simpson’s trademark “D’oh!”, or even the PC game Dawn of War (which is fun, and I recommend you try it if you haven’t done so already), even though it would be abbreviated in the same way…

2I’m not suggesting that such an alliance is really likely – merely that it is possible using the army choices available. However legal that army may be, players have every right to raise an eyebrow when Orcs and Dwarfs (or High and Dark Elves) are found fighting on the same side. 

3It should be noted that I persist in fielding my Paymaster on foot, and invariably find myself in combat gamely swinging a great weapon and hoping I don’t miss. I have not been punished too severely for this, but it feels a little foolhardy, nonetheless.

4It’s worth pointing out that some of the Regiments of Renown characters actually have excellent protection, most notably Beorg Bearstruck and Richter Kreuger (both of whom have 4+ Ward Saves). These characters will cost you, however it’s nice to know that something in the army might live through a challenge with an angry Vampire or Chaos Lord. 

5I have chosen Dwarfs and Ogres as logical examples, as both races contribute regiments to the DoW army, and it is therefore in character to suggest that an entire army of them might be for hire.

6This is another reason that I favour Dwarfs and Ogres for this purpose. In a tournament where DoW may only be fielded in their own right, it does not take much manipulation to swap the roles of the units, move the characters around a little, and turn the army into a fully-fledged DoW army. Core and Special/Rare units will tend to do a bit of a swap in this situation (eg Dwarf Warriors becoming Mercenary Dwarfs sends them from Core to Special and your mercenary Heavy Cavalry go from Rare to Core), however it gives you more of a chance to field the army (or something closely resembling it) even in a restricted environment. 

The Mercenary Legion of Grumpi Gurgison


Grumpi Gurgison - Dwarf Mercenary General (Lord) with Great Weapon, Gromril Armour, Kragg's Master Rune, Rune of Fury, Rune of Spite – 241pts

"Moneybags" Minderson - Dwarf Paymaster (BSB) with Oath Stone (Treasure chest), Gromril Armour, 2 Runes of Iron, Rune of Cleaving – 160pts

Krazi Kukison - Dwarf Wizard (Runesmith) with Rune of Spellbreaking – 95pts

Core Units:

19 Dwarf Warriors with Hand Weapons, Heavy Armour, Shields, Command – 196pts

20 Dwarf Longbeards with Great Weapons, Heavy Armour, Shields, Command, Rune of Battle – 310pts

20 Dwarf Longbeards with Hand Weapons, Heavy Armour, Shields, Command, Rune of Slowness – 295pts

Special Units:

20 Bearmen of Urslo – 335pts

Rare Units:

4 Ogre Ironguts with Great Weapons, Heavy Armour – 192pts

6 Mercenary Heavy Cavalry with Command – 171pts