Total War: Warhammer Debuts Its Dwarfs

The last time I had anything to do with dwarfs I was playing a card-based drinking game called Iron & Ale for Shut Up & Sit Down. This happened. As a result, the dwarf unit video for Total War: Warhammer [official site] is one I watched with one hand cupped protectively over my arm.

“This video focuses on Longbeards, Ironbreakers and Hammerers – three melee units who exemplify the Dwarfen combat style with their ornate axes and hammers. One of the four playable races in the initial launch of Total War: Warhammer, Dwarfs are expert miners and craftsmen who toil in ancient forges where centuries of hereditary knowledge are smithed into unrivalled arms and armour.”

So I have a question about dwarfs. Why would they be so dismissive of stabby weapons? Surely a few little knives would be really useful weapons if you spend a lot of time underground in enclosed spaces? Swinging a hammer would be the height of luxury. What you really want is a shiv. Dwarfs should be all about the shivs.

Maybe it’s an engineering thing – pride in the balancing as well as the decoration – and I guess it gives them something to do with all that metal ore. You could make one hammer instead of cluttering up the place with a million grapefruit spoons.

Anyhow. I like how sturdy-but-deadly these guys look. The voiceover describes it rather nicely as “bundled strength”.

Total Warhammer is due to launch in 2016.


  1. Serenegoose says:

    Yeah, but 4 races, though. I mean I understand that greenskins vs humans is more distinct in and of itself than any prior total war game, but…

    humans, orks, dwarves, chaos, elves. That’s 5. Before we even get to dark elves, vampires, skaven… and I don’t even know anything about fantasy warhammer. It seems a bit sparse, especially in light of the fact that the celts were sold as an add-on in attila. It makes me uneasy about how much this game is going to /actually/ cost.

    • Jenks says:

      The actual cost is the base cost + lizardmen DLC.

      • SanguineAngel says:

        You spelt Skaven wrong

        • demicanadian says:

          Yeah, somehow I feel that Lizardmen are going to the same place as Chaos Dwarves and Fimir…

    • Jesus_Phish says:

      It’s funny – within the last month or so Games Workshop blew their fantasy game up in favour of a new system. But the races of Fantasy are
      Human (Bretonnian and Empire), Elves (Wood, Dark, High), Dwarfs, Lizardmen, Orcs (includes goblins), Chaos (splits into Beastmen, Warriors and Demons and additionally but rarely seen Dwarfs), Skaven, Ogres and then the Undead (Vampire Counts and Tomb Kings).

      That’s 15 different races/factions. And in some cases they don’t get along. The elf factions are separated from each other. Likewise for the Undead. The two human factions are basically just one has everyone on horses and the other uses a mix of knights, militia and engineering. Chaos is about the only one where it wouldn’t be out of place for all three (dwarfs are a special case – they barely put models out for them) to be seen fighting together.

      This game is going to be expensive if you want everything, just like Dawn of War was if you bought it all full price on release as it came out.

      • King Trode of Trodain says:

        …and now the only worth of my comment is that I remembered the Ogres ;)

      • Koshelkin says:

        The heart of every Bretonnian army is the cavalry but they have footsoldiers(and considering the lore they represent the bulk of the army: man-at-arms and archers) as well.

    • King Trode of Trodain says:

      Ok let’s see how many armies I can remember off the top of my head from 7th ed warhammer:
      The Empire (fantasy holy roman empire), Bretonnia (fantasy medieval france), High Elves, Wood Elves, Dark Elves, Orcs’n’gobbos, Skaven, Chaos, Beastmen (could be included in chaos though), Lizardmen, Dwarves, Tomb Kings, Vampire Counts, Ogres.
      15 or maybe 14 total.

      …So basically, remember that I called it first when The Creative Assembly buys Australia two years from now

    • Rizlar says:

      No love for the Dogs of War? I always fancied an army of mutant gobbos and renaissance knights.

  2. Isometric says:

    Looking most excellent. I’ll be playing as these grumpy lads for sure.

  3. Isometric says:

    Oh and it’s Skaven who are all about the Shivs. Ask Kieron!

  4. Jorum says:

    I’ve always though Dwarves obsession with Axes and Hammers doesn’t make sense. If you live underground and your world is tunnels and doorways then bloody great spears and pikes seem the best options.

    • Vacuity729 says:

      Long weapons are not desirable in close confines. If you’ve ever tried handling real (or training) melee weapons, that becomes apparent very quickly. In small spaces, you generally want smaller weapons.

      • Jorum says:

        Historically advanced pike formations (or equivalent spike on long stick) ended up proving to be pretty much invulnerable to anything other than missile fire. I was thinking along the lines of 30 dwarves with pikes packed into a tunnel, with no worries about missiles from above, flanking or having to actually maneuver. Give the front rank some shields and you have a almost perfect defence.
        Well, until Skaven wheel up the poisoned gas and warpfire throwers, but that’s OK because I like Skaven.

        • Cuddlefish says:

          On the one hand I agree that disciplined pikes might be nasty – but on the other it seems like if you’ve got tight tunnels, actually having PEOPLE hold the pikes is inefficient? Each of them needs a fair bit of frontage (45cm? more? less?) to be able to stand in an orderly fashion, especially if they’re meant to be thrusting and such with their pikes. That’s a (relatively) limited actual point density when you take the third dimension into account, which with the limited space means you might need to worry about the enemy using implements to force your pikes aside and pin them on a wall/ceiling/floor, step forward a bit to be just out of reach of the next row, repeat until close enough they can bull in with shields and shortswords and start the absolute brutality that would be a tight-confines melee between close-order forces, assuming both stuck it out rather than one or the other fleeing.

          Given that there’s no way the Pikes are going to be a meaningfully mobile formation except in one dimension (they certainly aren’t TURNING in a corridor with long pikes), I wonder if you wouldn’t be better off just mounting a forest of pikes to a heavy cart type mounting, rolling it into place, and then using sandbags or the like to weigh it down as a means of emplacement. Similar net effect – in that both are likely penetrable by an otherwise un-harassed force. However, the latter is much more amenable to then having some space for people to use your favorite quasi-close-quarters ranged implements (crossbows, probably not black powder because everyone would die of smoke inhalation, etc) to fire at the enemy, giving you both a way of discouraging anyone trying to mess with your pikes, and firing into the enemy pike block from safely outside stabbing distance.

    • mattevansc3 says:

      But these are dwarven tunnels. You could fit one side of the M4 in one of those.

    • Strangerator says:

      Dwarfs use axes and hammers because they are durable, plain and simple. A sword quickly becomes blunted and can be broken (ditto spears), while axes and hammers don’t rely on a keen edge to do their work (popular misconception is that axes need to be sharp). Phalanx type formations are problematic against skaven, they tend to attack from unexpected angles using tunnels and the like. Finally, use of a sword requires a lot more training to be maximally effective. Dwarfs (in Warhammer at least) live the majority of their lives as craftsmen, only taking up arms in times of war. A considerably small number of dwarfs are needed to protect the nobility (hammerers) and to be vanguards in tunneling operations (ironbreakers) and so they are slightly more skilled/armed fighters.

  5. Heavenfall says:

    Dwarves use axes because it’s traditional. More specifically, as Pratchett said, a good dwarven axe has one edge for mining your claim and one for keeping others away from your claim. As for hammers… I guess it ties into how they’re supposed to be great artisans of metal and gemstones, just blacksmithy in general.

    • RedWurm says:

      Blunt weapons were historically popular when you want to mess up someone who’s wearing pretty good armor, like the sort of thing other dwarfs wear. Which implies drunken dwarf bar brawls get really serious.

    • frightlever says:

      If Hell on Wheels has taught me anything, it’s that tunnelling is more likely to involve a hammer and chisel than a pickaxe. I guess because the hammer doesn’t wear out, whereas the chisels do.

      Actually I Googled, in case Cullen had been lying to me.

      link to

      Quite interesting.

      Anyway, that’s why dwarfs like 2 handed swinging weapons.

    • bv728 says:

      Generally, when you’re in a tunnel, you want something that works at any angle, can be used one or two handed, with a short blade.

      Axes, especially bearded ones like the ones traditionally illustrated with Dwarves actually check off the above. Choke up on it, and you can still get a good chunk of power out of it, choke down and you gain range, the haft can both block and bludgeon.

      If you were really designing them, then you’d likely see Daggers as well, but axes, maces, and hammers as Arming Weapons works. Well, not the hammers shown here, mind you – proper hammers would honestly look more like a scaled up modern construction hammer, small head, rear spike, or even a slightly blunt axe.

      Plus since this is fantasy, I’d expect to see some Mace/Axes around (a rare but real thing – hollow haft, mace head on one end, small axe on the other).

  6. NetharSpinos says:

    I don’t personally like Dwarves in fantasy, never really have. but I’ll welcome their attendance anyway; t’wouldn’t be a proper Warhammer game without them, and Necromancy is an equal-opportunity employer >:D

  7. ohminus says:

    Every time I see dwarves with flat top helmets, I get a headache. Whoever comes up with such things has no idea what a helmet is for and how it is used. Yes, there were flat top helmets – for mounted knights highly unlikely to get a strike from up top. A small dwarf with such a helmet is just inviting a troll to punch him straight into the ground… or another dwarf to plant a hammer on his head.

    • frightlever says:

      Yeah, Christ I hate that. The only armour that should matter on those dwarfs is the skimpy chainmail bikinis they should be wearing.

    • Jorum says:

      I dunno. I assume Dwarf skulls are pretty robust, so maybe that’s the plan. Tempt the enemy into smacking you on the head instead of going for something vulnerable. Like the beard.

    • Spacewalk says:

      It’s where you put your beer when

  8. Rizlar says:

    Also love how the video introduces them as ‘famous miners and craftsmen’ or something. As if a. we have never encountered this idea of Dwarfs before, b. it’s at all relevant.

    Imagine introducing the human army as ‘famous pastoral farmers and playwrights’.

    • Cinek says:

      Hehe, they should make it a thing and introduce every race with some ridiculous “famous” line.

  9. Chiron says:

    I miss Imperial Dwarves, the grim scots covered in iron with Steampunk tech is so generic.

  10. Freud says:

    I imagined them to be taller tbh.

  11. trjp says:

    Are they really calling it Total War: Warhammer??

    Not just Total Warhammer or Total War:hammer or Total WARHammer or whatever???

    TSB Bank, MOT Test etc. etc.

  12. trooperwally says:

    Sorry I’m late to the party but they spelled ‘Dwarven’ wrong – they spelled it ‘Dwarfen’. I think we can all agree that is wrong? Google seems to agree with the Dwarven spelling.

    • ohminus says:

      Both are correct, as far as I know, just as traditionally, the plural of dwarf is dwarfs, but Tolkien popularized unintentionally “dwarves”.

      • Great Cthulhu says:

        I seem to recall reading that he did it intentionally to distinguish his vision of them from Disney’s dwarfs in Snow White.