It’s time to unleash the Squigs and add another stack of grudges to the book, as both the Greenskin (goblins, especially) and Dwarf factions have been expanded in the most recent DLC for Total War: Warhammer. The King and the Warlord is broadly centered around the battle for Karak Eight Peaks, between sneaky, Squig-loving Warlord Skarsnik, and stoic friend of ghosts Belegar Ironhammer.
As well as that pair of new Legendary Lords (and their distinct factions; the Crooked Moon Tribe and Clan Angrund), the King and the Warlord adds a regular Lord apiece, new units for both sides, and another set of souped-up Regiments of Renown. For Greenskin armies in particular, the new additions fill some utility holes in the roster and make all-Goblin armies much more viable.
Skarsnik starts the campaign with a unit of Squig Hoppers, some basic Night Goblin infantry (with fanatics – who, post-patch, are now manually aimed and deployed), and an Arachnarok Spider. He also gets a free Goblin Big Boss Hero. Upkeep and recruitment cost for Goblin units is -40%, and Orc units can only be recruited once (if) Karak Eight Peaks is reclaimed from some traitorous gits. Skarsnik is a tricksie fellow, giving him Lightning Strike (preventing nearby reinforcements from joining a battle) as a trait right from the start.
All of which steers him towards being a fully Gobbo-centric boss who can flood the field with even more numbers than usual, and (thanks to several options with Vanguard deployment) employ sneaky flanking tactics when the opportunity presents itself. The greatest weakness for Goblin forces is poor overall leadership, so inject a little courage into the lads by aiming for leadership-boosting abilities in Skarsnik’s skill tree. Choices like Intimidating Presence (+5 leadership within aura), and Bellower (extends the size of his aura), as well as abilities like Get Back ‘Ere (popping a +16 leadership boost) are all available through the middle section.
While you’re ticking things off on that branch, choices like Da Gobbos (melee boosts for infantry in Skarsnik’s army) are well worth looking at too. Goblin infantry with boosted leadership and improved fighting skills, at low-low Skarsnik prices, can be relatively formidable. Drippin’ Tips is a solid choice too, adding poison attacks for the whole army.
The King and the Warlord DLC starts Skarsnik off at Karak Azgaraz, a considerable distance from Eight Peaks (the excuse being that he was hunting rare Squigs). In the introduction, it’s implied that Skarsnik should burn his way across Empire lands. The alternative is to build up enough strength to head south, take Karak Norn (which will be a very tough fight) and somewhat consolidate for when Belegar heads in your direction. Either way, your first turns should be spent building up forces. Once Skarsnik has acquired sufficient levels, it’s helpful to delve into the lower end of the Greenskin Regiments of Renown. The fear-causing Moon-Howler Wolf Riders can be snapped up as a relatively effective cavalry unit, for example.
Getting a solid start as Skarsnik is the tough part; once he’s off and running in his skill tree the Goblin forces under his command get more and more fearsome. He’s handy in a fight too (or Gobbla is, at least) so don’t be afraid to get stuck in with a charge. Keeping him positioned to influence as many Gobbo lads as possible with his leadership aura is of most importance, but that doesn’t mean he has to miss out on prodding things to death. Plus he talks like a menacing street urchin from Ripper Street, so he’s got that going for him too.
A mini version of Skarsnik, basically (you can even get a Squig pal at level 12, as a mount). Hire this guy if you’re doing a Greenskin campaign and fancy running an army full of adorable Gobbos. He has the same skill tree benefits as Skarsnik, able to pick up abilities to buff Goblins in battle, and acquire permanent passive boosts to infantry, Squig units, and so on. Like Skarsnik, he can also provide poison damage for the whole army.
It’s Goblins riding Squigs, so you’re obviously going to want to recruit some of these guys on principle. Helpfully, they’re also a decent unit. Use them as light strike cavalry, where their bonuses against (unarmoured) infantry and poison attacks can shine. Their immunity to fear/terror doesn’t hurt either (apparently once you’ve made the decision to ride a Squig, very little else can cause you anxiety). A massive improvement over micro-intensive Wolf Riders, and, of course, more expensive to maintain as well. Like many sneaky Goblin units they have Vanguard deployment, so you can prime them for flank attacks or a sortie against enemy ranged troops (be careful there though, the Hoppers are fast but squishy).
The Squig Herd shares a fair amount in common with the Hoppers (Vanguard deployment, immunity to fear/terror), but trades up the poison attacks for armour piercing jaws. A rear or flank charge by these guys into a unit pinned by some Goblin Spearmen or Night Gobbos can be devastating, even against quite robust troops. Again, use them as strike cavalry, and point them towards areas where your forces need some help chomping through the line of armoured Dwarf gits (or Chaos, whoever really). Later-tier units will naturally give them trouble but for early-to-mid campaign, Squig Herds seem like great value.
More armour-piercing options for the Goblin lads. These guys have slightly worse leadership, HP, and melee defense over regular Night Goblins, but make up for it with super pointy daggers and sneaky tricks. The Vanguard deployment and Stalk skills are equivalent to Night Gobbos, but the Nasty Skulkers also have a Smoke Bomb skill (which drastically reduces enemy speed and charge speed in the general area). Whenever possible, use these chaps to tip a fairly even combat your way. They have an ability called ‘Opportunistic Murderers’ which means as long as they’re winning a fight, they’re getting large bonuses to melee and armour-piercing.
As in The Grim and the Grave, the Regiments of Renown in The King and the Warlord are Rank 9 versions of regular units with a few unique traits and outfit changes. Rather than duplicate information already provided on the Total War: Warhammer wiki, these are just some of my favourite additions. I’m not saying these are the best choices (obviously a more powerful Arachnarok Spider is useful if you can afford it); they’re mostly based on flavour as much as tactics.
For the Gobbos (and since this is a Skarsnik DLC), I’m partial to the Night Goblin Regiments of Renown. Da Warlord’s Boyz have extremely cool hats (an important part of Warhammer, as the Chaos Dwarfs know) and have taken enough mushrooms to be immune to fear and terror. Armour Sundering attacks means they weaken the armour of those they fight, meaning they can work rather well in conjunction with some Squigs.
The companion archer unit, Da Rusty Arrers have ranged Sundering attacks (and poison melee ones, giving them at least a small chance of surviving close combat). Vanguard and Stalk mean you can use these lads to rain down some surprise armour-weakening goodness from afar.
Finally, Da Eight Peaks Loonies. It’s debatable whether they’re really worth the extra cost (since Fanatics are kind of a gamble to begin with), but I’m not going to pass up the chance to recommend a unit that uses insane, spinning Goblins wielding shaved Dwarfs on the end of a chain as a means of attack. You’ve got to try that sort of thing out at least once.
Dwarfs are my least played faction, so assessing these additions in the context of the existing roster was a little harder. You don’t need a PhD in Dwarf Grudgeology to figure out that Belegar gets a tough start, though. He begins in Karak Izor, with a unit of Rangers, Dwarf Warriors and Hammerers. As alluded to in the intro to this piece, he also gets four Dwarf ghost pals: two Thanes, one Master Engineer, and one Runesmith. These guys all have the Ethereal properties, making them extremely useful and resilient when brought to the battlefield (be aware though, they can ‘die’ like normal heroes, and will vanish for good if that happens).
Belegar’s big campaign problem, and the one that’ll nag you until you do something about it, is that his army upkeep is +50% until Karak Eight Peaks is recaptured. That means, unlike Skarsnik, you can’t really afford to prat about too long doing anything other than getting Eight Peaks back. But to do that you’ll first need more troops, and to get those you’ll need to actually be able to afford them. To help on that front, direct all your research towards diplomatic efforts as soon as possible (Dwarfen Emissaries, Dwarfen Diplomats) and start sweet talking as many promising nearby factions and regions as you can. The more defensive and miliary alliances (and trade routes) you wind up with, the more you can use other people’s troops to deal with Greenskin problems. Don’t try to confederate with anybody though. You won’t be able to afford the new armies you inherit, and you want some of those allies to be acting as a buffer zone against enemies.
Try to engage and destroy the Crooked Moon tribe (Skarsnik) to the North as soon as you can, because if you don’t he’ll start mustering stacks galore. It can be a good idea to disband the Hammerers unit Belegar starts with, just because they’re so expensive. Replace them with a bunch of Rangers (their crossbows will sort out early tier Goblin units). Get military allies to help you if you can.
Remember that your Ethereal Agents have skills outside the battlefield. The Thanes can be deployed to boost public order when necessary, and the Master Engineer can (when levelled up a bit) offer +15% movement speed to your ranged units. That includes Rangers, who with that boost will actually be relatively swift on the field. Your Engineer can also sabotage enemy armies, making them easier to catch (if you’re not already using Ambush stance outside your cities).
I’d recommend following Belegar’s lower skill branch where possible. The 10% boost to campaign map movement will serve you well (you’ll be marching towards Eight Peaks sooner or later), but what you’re really going for here is Lightning Strike. When you come to attack Karak Eight Peaks you want to be taking on the defending army alone without any nearby reinforcements getting in on the fight. Lightning Strike allows you to do just that.
A beefier version of the Runesmith (most of his runes are improved versions of the ‘Smith’s) who can serve as a buff-centric army general. Since most Dwarf tactics seem to be based around sitting in place and refusing to budge, his Rune powers complement this perfectly.
The Hearth and Home passive gives everybody in the (rather large) radius immunity to fear and terror, as well as 100% charge resistance. So you can literally sit in place and soak up any charge bonuses. Once sufficiently levelled up, you can make use of Stand Your Ground (+16 leadership and +36 melee defence for 15 seconds), Master Rune of Oath and Steel (+30 armour for 15s), and Master Rune of Negation (+44% damage resistance for 18s) to make sure none of the Dwarf forces nearby budge an inch.
On the offensive side of things, the Forgefire passive grants +8% armour-piercing to those in the vicinity, while Master Ruin of Wrath and Ruin gives you a magical area-of-effect attack to drop on enemy units.
At level 10, Runelords can hop onto an Anvil of Doom. As well as balancing on that delicate Warhammer line between looking rather silly and very cool, the Anvil provides the usual mount stats bonus (additional HP, melee defence). It has a couple of abilities too, which are difficult to ascertain for sure because you can’t mouse over them while still hovering the pointer over the Anvil. I’m pretty sure it’s a broad Magic Resistance of some kind (based on the icon), plus extra Physical Resistance for the Runelord himself.
For his additional stoicism buffs alone, the Runelord is well worth considering over a standard Dwarf lord.
The only Dwarf unit (along with the Bugman’s and Great Weapon variants) with Vanguard deployment. That expands the Dwarf tactical playbook to include a bit of potential flanking, although circumstances need to be right for you to be deviating from the usual turtling policy. Hardy Quarrellers are going to remain the better ranged unit for just holding a basic line, but there’s always a time and place for a hidden unit popping out from nowhere and disrupting an enemy attack. You can use them to pull parts of an opposition advance out of position, or keep them in reserve to appear and harass war machines (not usually an option for Dwarfs if you have to walk all the way over there). Or, if desperate and willing to sacrifice them, to bog down a dangerous foe you’d rather not be reaching your lines just yet.
At the time of writing the Volley Fire tech is bugged for Rangers and actually makes them fire more slowly. So be aware of that until it’s patched.
Higher quality (and more expensive) version of Rangers with slightly more potential for survival, thanks to their Liquid Fortification skill. This basically means they’re getting tanked up with booze to avoid the pain (passive HP regeneration in exchange for reduced accuracy). It’s a cute gimmick, though the additional cost may not be worth it for what’s essentially a skirmishing unit.
Basically a cheaper cannon, with the same Anti-Large and Armour-Piercing traits. The Dwarf roster wasn’t really missing a whole lot of tabletop units in Total War: Warhammer (which is why the King and the Warlord adds Rangers and … other Rangers), but the Bolt Thrower was one thing that had been overlooked. Buy them if you can’t afford a cannon, or just fancy some variety, and point towards large, armoured targets.
Again, as with the Greenskins, I’m not saying these are the ‘best’ by any means. But they’re often the most fun.
With that criteria in mind, the Gob-Lobber is a must. It’s a Grudge Thrower that tosses Goblins tied to rocks at enemy units, reducing their morale whenever it lands a hit. Fellow war machine the Skyhammer Gyrobomber is great too, able to drop a massive payload of explosives on top of hapless, densely packed infantry units.
I’m a fan of The Grumbling Guard too. Something about the power of being a bunch of old moaning geezers (providing Leadership and Vigor boosts to those around them) is so perfectly Dwarf.
For other Total War: Warhammer Guides, read over here for advice on using units in The Grim and the Grave, and here for Formation control tips.