The Dwarves

Continuing with my series of racial reviews, today's race is one many people love to play. They are some of the most fun fantasy characters to role play. They have many almost characatured features, their love of beer, their long beards, their lust for gold, their joy of battle, etc. In fact, The Hobbit was largely based, not on Hobbits, but Dwarves (or Dwarfs, depending on your preference.)

Dwarves: Balin, Bifur, Bofur, Bombur, Dain II, Dori, Dwalin, Fili, Gimli, Gloin, Kili, Nori, Oin, Ori, Thorin II, Thrain II

Dwarves an the whole are pretty similar. They all have pretty decent prowess, especially against orcs, but enhancing many of them is a little dangerous due to -1 corruption modifiers. They've got several cool cards for themselves and few hazards target them directly (though several can really hurt). They are also probably the most likely race to be found in a company of nothing but that race.

The high-minded (7+) dwarves don't have the disadvantages of most of the low minded ones. Dain II, Thorin II, and Thain II are all pretty good fighters (though Dain and Thorin only have 5 prowess vs. non-orcs). Dain can control a number of Men and Thorin/Thrain can control most Dwarves. If you give Thorin The Arkenstone he can control Dain (and go get factions :-) or if you give it to Thrain to control Thorin (giving you almost double your investment). Any of the three are good staples in normal companies and a good leader in a Dwarven company. Any of them are also a good target for King Under the Mountain or one of the factions.

The middle-mind (4-6) Dwarves are pretty good as well. They are Gimli, Gloin, and Balin. All pretty good fighters and can control a small dwarf or two and have a good shot at the factions. Like almost all Dwarves, they get +prowess to orcs, but unlike the small ones, they can be pretty safely given an item without fear of corruption. Gloin can be a faction infuencer who can hold his own in a fight in many companies and Balin is the only Dwarven sage other than Thrain, letting you play cards like Marvels Told or tap to help with some of the nastier corruption cards. Gimli (or Gimpli if he's wounded) can let you add some elf flavor to your deck, perhaps controling someone like Annalena.

Dwarves really weigh in in the low mind range (3 and below). Bifur, Bofur, Bombur, Dori, Fili, Kili, Nori, Oin, and Ori (all at your service) can often be useful members of a company. They can be easily controlled by several of the bigger Dwarves and they all have pretty decent prowess (and can really dampen an orc attack deck). Most of them have -1 to corruption checks, but this is easily fixed by a Fellowship or two. It's pretty easy to fill up a company of just Dwarves, which is where An Unexpected Party comes in. They often make good after-additions to companies as another fighter to take the hits, easily fitting under several characters' DI.

A straight-Dwarf deck is fairly easy to build, assuming you have the cards. They don't have too many factions, and one is very hard to get out, but if you're up around Dragon country you can have Dain easily bring in several man factions. With just Dwarf-specific cards (Blue Mountain/Iron Hill Dwarves, Return of the King, Returned Exiles, The Arkenstone, and Durin's Axe) you can easily get 26 MPs, enough to win. If you add Dwarven rings you're adding 6 MPs a pop as well as rockin' prowess/DI bonuses, but you're also raking in the corruption. To this end, Free to Choose, Fellowship, A Friend or Three (or in this case, A Friend or Thirteen) are musts in a Dwarf deck. An Unexpected Party can be fun, though they work well normally too. And for those sick and nasty multi-strike undead attacks, whip out The Dwarves Are Upon You!

Dwarves can work nicely in "normal" decks as well. For instance, for mind you can have Gloin leading Kili plus Balin leading Bifur and Bofur on the side (20 prowess total) and Robin Smallburrow around to take some items (and only one needs not be part of the starting company). While many of the Dwarves get -1 to influence checks on factions, there's always Muster or one of the Dwarves like Gloin. Another nice Dwarvocentric deck revolves around sites with orc auto-attacks. Since almost every Dwarf gets at least +1 vs. orcs, why not head to big and nasty orc-holds and cleanse the land of the foul brood of Sauron. While you're at it, Thorogh Search and Rescue Prisoners can come out easily.

In terms of hazard portions, a Dwarf deck can compliment about anything. You don't want any Traitors or The Balnce of Things/Ren the Unclean, but you can have strategies ranging from Orc (I have a deck that enhances its OWN orc auto-attacks and beats 'em up) to a mixed bag to maybe roadblock, though the Dwarves are a bit short on rangers.

As for hazards to combat Dwarves, there is no better way than corruption. Though Lure of Nature does not work on them, Lure of Expedience/Greed can really hurt a Dwarf deck. Greed is the perfect card to put on guard against a company heading to an info site to play Ringlore and a Dwarven Ring. Lure of the Senses is a good card and is hard to remove, though most Dwarves don't need to head to havens too often. Dispair of the Heart won't cause many corruption checks, though if combined with Undead (something Dwarves sometimes have trouble with) it may be nasty.

Aside from the obvious -1 to corruption checks, Dwarves suffer from a homoginization of skills. There are two sages, three diplomats, two scouts, two rangers, and everyone else is a warrior. And of those skills, the three big ones take up 5 of the added skills. Thus, cards which require the presence of most skills have a problem against Dawarf decks. Cards like Endless Whispers which requie a sage to get rid of the card are deadly, and you don't have much defense in the way of roadblock and stealthy cards are pretty much out (though Dwarves don't really need to cancel attacks very often).

In terms of teaming up, probably the best race for Dwarves is Hobbits, as was shown in The Hobbit. The Dwarves can protect the small Hobbits pretty well and the Hobbit can hold the item, keeping the dwarves form being corrupt. Several of the Elves can team up as an orc-bashing team and Men can follow Dain around really well.

For role playing, Dwarves are about the most fun. You can sing, you can shout, you can make gruff sounding voices, you can act out Thorin swinging Durin's Axe, etc. You can even carry Dwarves back and forth to many RPGs like AD&D, being almost exactly the same as Tolkien wrote them.

So on the whole, Dwarves are some of the best fighters around. Many of them have problems with factions or items, but if it's combat you fear, fear no more, for many foes will balk if they see a couple Dwarves in the company.

Ratings for Dwarves:
Isildur: 7.5 (3 tie)
Bandobras Took: 7.3 (5)
Farmer Maggot: 9.0 (1 tie)
Samwise: 8.5 (2)
Strider: 8.0 (3 tie)
Fingolfin: 8.5 (1)
Beorn: 8.0 (2 tie)
Legolas: 9.0 (1 tie)
Average: 8.2 (2 tie)

A couple notes. First, I'm entering finals season, so I may fall a bit behind (right now I'm a day behind). Never fear, I will be up to date by May 5, probably sooner. Second, a suggestion was made for the succesor of the CotD. If I don't find someone who has 30-45 minutes per day plus knowledge of Usenet/web, there is another option. It could become a CotD collective, with one person as an organizer, one as a website dude, and all three (probably) alternating reviews. I kind of don't like this way, but I distrust group work in general and prefer to take everything on myself. If someone would be interested in some aspect of the job, but not the full daily thing, let me know. Lastly, we finally got around to getting listserv software running, so I will be switching the mailing list over there in a few days (probably starting Monday). To subscribe, send a message (no subject) to with the following line in the body: subscribe metw-cotd If you have any problems, let me know. I will still post to normal mail until probably next Wednesday, letting people switch over, and then it will be exclusively on the listserv. I will continue to post to Usenet and the web, though. So for tonight, I'm Isildur Stone, signing off... More back issues

Card names and text copyright 1996 by Iron Crown Enterprises, all rights reserved. This document copyright 1997 by Trevor Stone. Permission given to duplicate so long as no profit is made and the copyright notice is kept in tact, blah, blah, blah.