Dwarf Strategy Guide
In the fantasy genre, the Dwarves have a powerful disadvantage -- tiny stature -- that they overcome with exceptional physical strength and hardyness. Hero Academy is true to this model, in that the Dwarfs have multiple powerful disadvantages, including some that are unique to the Dwarves, offset by a unique ability (the bubble), the overall strength of their units, an excellent super unit and a "spell," the Pulvarizer (a/k/a the "Drill"), which is probably the best item in the spell slot at killing units, and the toughness of their healer, the Paladin ("Pally" or "Pallies").
The Dwarves work very well together as a team, with multiple types of units deployed and operating in close proximity to each other. If the Dwarves can be hit early, before the full team is assembled, geared and bubbles deployed, they are often vulnerable. Moreover, Paladins are a particularly critical part of the Dwarven team, (even more so than the healers of other teams) and if the Dwarves have only one out, or the "back-up" pally can be killed, the Dwarves may become vulnerable.
If the deck and their opponent allow/cant prevent deployment and upgrading of an assault/defense team, the Dwarves become as tough as (or tougher than) any team, a major threat to win on crystal or achieve a TKO. While they can win fast, their unparralled defensive abilities also allow them to win very long games.
(1) No suprise rez - ie no (soul harvest or council potion) and no rez distant from the healer (as the Tribe's shaman can). This is huge, it means the other team knows your unit is dead unless a pally comes to rez, and they can easily and safely calculate whether that is possible, without worrying about whether you have an instant rez. Sure, you do need to factor in the use of a beer, but its just not remotely the same. The threat of a Council potion or soul harvest matters a lot, and the Shaman's ability provides the Tribe with tremendous flexibility. This is a major negative for the Dwarves;
(2) No ranged stomp - DE have the nec, Tribe have the witch, and Council can use a fireball. True, the fireball is not in the same class as the witch or nec, but the important feature is that its potentially available to kill high value units, and it must be planned for. Conversely, with no ranged stomp of any kind, you know that a unit that cant be physically stomped will still be there when its your turn. This is a massive disadvantage;
(3) Extra set up time and deck requirements: Because Paladins cant be risked they cant generally be a front line offensive unit (at least until the mid-game when you have two out, and one is fully armored and bubbled), the Dwarves have only 2 offensive units, grenadiers and shotgunners, meaning that, like the Council, you can more easily get bad luck and be without offense. Moreover, while both shotgunners and grenadiers are great in combination -- they synergize well -- and very strong in the middle game with upgrades and bubbles, they can be comparatively weak/inflexible early on. To really shine, the Dwarves need time to get a team out, add gear and bubbles, meaning that one or more engineers is fairly important. Get too many engineers and they clog your deck...get none and its a problem as well. Dwarves will need a second paladin fairly quickly as well, because your adversary will know that they can and should go to great lengths to kill the paladin, as pallies have more importance to the Dwarves than any single healer from another team.
Dwarves *CAN* play fast when they need to, for example on the ultra-fast barbed crystal map. When doing so, the fact that the Pulvarizer is a fantastic unit killer can really come in handy. Dwarves are normally at their best, however, when they are all dressed up and ready for battle.
(4) No Ability to Move Units: (No, the Annihilator doesnt really count, it wont move a solo unit off a boost tile). If there is a tough unit on the boost tile, the Dwarves may need to kill it, as they cant move it, and it may or may not be ignorable. This can give the Dwarves some problems in the battle for crystal, but generally speaking the Dwarves strong ability to kill tough units minimizes the impact of this disadvantage and helps them keep equality.
(1) Bubbled units can be a **&^! to kill: A fully upgraded grenadier or shotgunner with a bubble with a nearby (preferably touching) pally makes for a tank with huge offensive capabilities. A fully upgraded bubbled Paladin is virtually impossible to kill, even more so with another paladin touching it.
(2) Strong and varied AOE: The shotgunner and grenadier collectively cause very substantial problems safely deploying a sizeable force. While neither is quite at the level of the Council archer, they are both top shelf offensive units, at least outside of the opening phase.
(3) Powerful Super Unit: With a bubble and gear, the Annihilator can be just as or safer than an upgraded archer due to its range. While the knock back is nice, the ability to do 450 damage a hit when upgraded (480 if your touching a pally) is huge. Moreover, applying the physical damage debuff can often allow a shotgunner or drill to make an easy kill. While the Wraith and Chieftains can be devasting, they are a bit situational -- like the Ninja, the Annihilator can almost always be a major contributor if you upgrade him.
(4) The Mad Power of the Almighty Drill: The Drill generally beats scrolls in the ability to kill high value units, and having Drills on top of scrolls means that enemy units add runemetal, or even a full armor kit, at their peril. The justifiable fear is so great that opponents sometimes sit on runemetal, waiting for a chance to use it. The Drill is flexible too -- in a crystal rush scenario, backed by boost tile(s) and hopefully used after the Annihilator applied a debuff, the Drill does huge damage to crystal.
(5) Good Crystal Hunters AND Good at TKOs:
Crystal: With the range and splash of the grenadier, the raw damage and debuff of the annhilator, the high damage of the drill (especially after the annihilator debuff) and the Dwarven racial bonus, the Dwarves are very good crystal killers. Sure, they are probably not quite as good as Council on the very fastest map (the Tribe's 3 crystals each map) because they need some set up time, but in general, once they get going, watch out. If you waste time against the Dwarves and let them get a full team (worse yet if you allow them to get some fodder out as well), you are in a tough spot.
TKO: Backed by pallies and bubbles, a geared Dwarven team (referring to a group of deployed units in close proximity to each other) is an insanely tough nut to crack. The Drill is truly an amazing way to remove valuable enemy units that might have thought they were safe. Geared and/or bubbled shotgunners are a huge threat to roam, scroll up and KO 3 units and/or stomp some. Grenadiers are annoying as heck even without runemetal, causing the adversary major headaches in effectively deploying, and upgraded, they can pose a major threat to groups of enemy units. The annihilator, with its damage and debuff, are a feared part of the attack team. As scary as this synergistic attack can be, part of the power of the Dwarven team is the ability to protect a crystal to a much higher degree than other teams, allowing the team to take more time in going for the TKO while defending agains the rush.
Dwarves get a +20% benefit from special tiles. So the sword tile gives +120 attack, not +100, Defense gives +24%, and the crystal assault tile (which I loosely call the boost tile) gives +360 instead of +300. The engineer gets +40% from special tiles, which is mostly useful if the engineer is standing on a boost tile -- its an extra +60 in crystal damage, above and beyond the extra +60 that any Dwarf gets from standing on the boost tile, for a total fo 420 (including the standard 300 conveyed by the tile to all factions).
UNIT & DECK ANALYSIS
Paladin (3 in Deck)
10% P, 10% M resist
200 attack (P), range 1
Standard size healing (heal for 400 or 600 with runemetal, rez at 100, or or 150 with runemetal), range 2.
Self heal bonus: Self-heals for 50% of any healing actually done (i.e., not including overheal).
Units Touching the Paladin (Even Diagonally) Get +5% to M and P Resist, +5% damage
Every team's healers are important, but Paladins are probably even more important to the Dwarves than the healer's of other factions are to their teams. This is the case because the Paladin is more than a simple healer. The ability to add 5% to an adjacent (even diagonally adjancent) units damage resistances and attack is an excellent ability that very often means a unit would take an extra AP to KO/stomp, keeping the unit safe. 5% may not sound like much, but it will often take a unit over a key threshold and keep it safe when it otherwise would not be. For instance, an 800 health unit next to a pally cant be stomped by a 200 damage shooter in range, and a helmed unit at 880 health cant be KO'd by an archer in 3 hits if touching a pally.
Moreover, when equipped with helm and shield, bubbled and backed by another pally, the paladin becomes virtually unkillable. Consider the 1200 health pally with 30% phys/magic resistance and a bubble. A runemetal archer requires one hit to get the bubble off; 4 hits does 1800 damage - 30% reduction, or 1260 damage. So the best a runemetal archer can do that starts in range is KO the pally, unless a scroll is used. Starting in range is hard...and if you dont start in range, you cant even scroll kill the pally! Accordingly, in the middle game, the upgraded pally becomes relatively safe, and can often be used as a tank/tile holder. Absent tricks like using an impaler or wave to get the pally in range of a sword tile, the best way to deal with the upgraded and bubbled pally is to try and kill the support/back-up pally, devastate the dwarf group with AOE, or alterantively and depending on the situation, just pound crystal or snipe offensive units.
How many pallies get a full armor kit? If you have two full kit pallies, arent they IMORTAL? Yeah, just about, but you are paying a price for that. The armor kits are important for your primary offensive units, and only having one kit available is a real sacrifice. The enemy can perhaps beat you in other ways than killing your pallies. My preferred approach is to use a full kit on one pally, but top players sometimes kit up a second pally, which can work, depending on the situation. And, of course, there may be situations where you dont need to gear a pally at all.
I have in guides for the other factions said that healers dont get runemetal. Paladins *can be* an exception. Because they dont have knockback like the Council Knight, they can actually kill stuff sometimes, and because a fully upgraded bubbled pally is so tough, they have the ability to be on the front lines and fight a bit. Moreover, dont forget that runemetal increases healing as well. Add it all up, and the League's current #1 has stated that he generally gives his upgraded pally runemetal. I generally dont, but the bottom line is that doing so can be situationally appropriate.
Annihilator (1 in Deck)
300 attack (M), range 3. Splashes 20% to all targets touching the main target, including diagonally.
If crystal is splashed, it takes the direct 20% splash, plus 20% of any assault boost tile damage.
Main target gets -50% P resist, for one attack, which persists indefinitely until that target is attacked. No limit on number of debuffed targets
Splash targets are knocked one square directly away from main target, if square is open.
The range and damage of an archer + knockback + minor splash damage + a physical damage debuff + moderately enhanced toughness (with a bubble on). Although the annihilator can actually outdamage an archer if a pally is adjacent, and outdamage the archer on crystal by even more given the Dwarven racial, the main reason the annihilator is a super unit and the archer is not is the plus factors listed above. Of those the physical damage debuff is by far the best. Hit a unit with it, and they carry it forever, meaning you may have opportunities to kill that unit with a shotgunner or drill at some remote future point, even if you cant plan such a sequence yet. Spread it around if you can, particularly on high health targets that would be hard to kill otherwise. The debuff pairs nicely with the drill...for example,a debuffed wraith will take 900 damage from the drill. Kind of a crimp in the DE's plans to develop the wraith into a godly unit :) The debuff is also nice to put on the crystal, as if you get in a crystal rush scenario, a drill on a crystal with the debuff, backed by one or both boost tiles does some serious damage.
Even without upgrades, the annihilator can sometimes safely hide behind a crystal, pop, shoot and retreat, just like an archer, given its range of 3. Moreover, with a bubble, the annihilator can sometimes effectively be used in the open without gear, and can serve as scroll bait. As with the Ninja, using a scroll to kill an unbuffed annihilator is an iffy proposition if another unit is also sacrificed to make the kill.
An annihilator can damage crystal through another unit. The attack only gets 20% splash damage, plus 20% of the boost tile damage, i.e. 450 (if the annhilator has runemetal) +360 (if a non engineer is on a boost tile) = 810, and 20% of that, rounded up, is 165. So the crystal damage is generally just a side benefit if its already worth it for the annihilator to attack a target touching a crystal.
Conclusion: you dont need a fully geared and bubbled annihilator to win, but it generally doesnt hurt. The annihilator is a terrific unit that will pay dividends to the Dwarf player if you have time to set him up properly.
Shotgunner (3 in Deck)
300 attack (P), range 1.
200 attack (P), range 2 (or diagonal).
Splashes 100% (see below for patterns)
The gunner can hits up to 3 units in a - - - formation up to 2 squares away. However, not all of the units need to be at the same distance as long as you are not shooting straight on at a unit at range one. Thus, you can shoot at the T (target) from G (gunner), and hit the 1 and 2 on the sides. You can also shoot diagonally, and hit the directly adjacent units. Thus, all of the following work:
T T T
The diagonal scenario is particularly non-obvious at first, so study the following:
All targets take the same damage, the gunners full base ranged damage of 200, with any modifiers for runemetal, scrolls, pally bonus or the like -- gunners dont suffer from reduction for their AOE. Moreover, gunners get full benefit from a boost tiles on the crystal damage, if a crystal is in any of the 3 attack slots. This means that a gunner can do some serious damage to a crystal while putting up to two other units face down in the dirt. With most other units except a ninja, scroll attacking the crystal is generally wasteful if you control a boost tile, but with a runemetal gunner with a debuffed crystal and a boost tile, and 1 or 2 other units in the crosshairs...yeah, that is full of awesome.
The combination of the various AOE possibilities gives the gunner dynamic power. Moreover, bubbled and/or with a full armor kit, the gunner has the survability to roam a bit from a pally at times. Sometimes, early in the game, you have no choice but to use a shotgunner to stake a position or create threats without gear, bubbles or pally support. They CAN do that, they just arent as good as, for example, the archer at these early manuevers. But grenadiers arent overwhelming without gear either, so you make do with what you have.
As always when using AOE, remember that you dont necessarily need to scroll up first -- it might work better to do a normal hit or two first, then scroll up. The goal with AOE is not necessarily to stomp (although if you can stomp something important great) but rather to leave so many bodies on the ground that your adversary spends the whole turn healing, leaving you in position to get stomps the next turn.
Moreover, one (or two) of the AOE spots can be taken by a crystal...so you can potentially do crystal damage while leaving two bodies KO'd, possibly forcing your opponent to heal and giving you free hand to shoot again.
Gunner Single Target Killing
Keeping in mind that the Dwarves only have two primary offensive units, and that the shotgunner is the only one with physical damage, they dont make ideal trade fodder. Still, any unupgraded Dwarf unit is a potential trade candidate, and if you can make a favorable trade, dont hesitate. Trading a gunner + scroll for a full kit knight on a boost tile, or for a runemetal archer, is an easy call, for example. So...get good value, but dont be afraid to trade gunners when appropriate. (Be a little extra careful when playing the DE...you need physical damage, but even there you have 3 gunners plus drills.)
Once you add runemetal, you arent looking to trade the gunner, but you do so much damage up close that you can kill most units straight up, and scroll or drill kill everything else.
Engineer (3 in Deck)
200 attack (P), range 1.
Can Bubble (i.e. shield) a target up to range of 3; bubble absorbs next attack regardless of size.
One Bubble allowed at a time per engineer. Engineer cant self bubble.
Bubble lasts indefinitely until damage is received, but expires if the Engineer is knocked down.
Gets 40% increased benefit from special tiles (as opposed to 20% for other Dwarves).
Engineers and their bubble are a major part of of what make the Dwarves tick. If all 3 are buried in your deck, you'll be worse off for it, but if all 3 are in your first 8-10 items, that is an annoyance as well. Deploying 3 engineers too early often causes more clutter than anything else, and they dont fight well enough to be of much offensive use. While you do need bubbles, engineers are expendable, particularly if you have 2 or 3 available, and dont heistate to trade an engineer for, for example, an archer, or an engineer + a drill for any runemetal upgraded unit. Every now and then you can effectively sit an engineer on a boost tile and get double the base Dwarven racial bonus on attacking crystal. Its a nice little perk when it happens to work out. but engineers are very squishy, and you dont normally want to upgrade them at all, so only do it if it makes sense given board conditions. Typically, my engineers are deployed somewhere relatively out of the way, but in range to reapply the bubble if appropriate. When a crystal rush is in full raging glory, you may have opportunities to use engineers much more actively, but crystal rush technique will be the subject of a separate guide, so we wont cover that now . Every now and then depending on the board it might make sense to equip an item, particularly when an engineer is sitting on the boost tile and will be a target (although you could bubble that engineer alternatively/additionally). Because the bonus the engineer conveys when sitting on a boost tile is fairly small (+60) it is generally not going to decide a game, and the bonus alone is not generally a good reason to put an engineer on a boost tile. However, if it is convenient to put the engineer there otherwise -- and it may be -- the bonus is a nice perk.
Note that if a bubbled unit attacks a tribe unit with a spike shield, the spike shield's damage will pop the bubble. You can lose games by forgetting :(
Dont prescroll or pre-meat a unit against the Dwarves without deep thought...a well placed bubble can make it hard to use the pre-scrolled/meat'd unit the way you want.
Dont bubble multiple units if splash damage is incoming, unless you need to do it to keep a key unit alive, as splash damage can take off multiple bubbles in one hit, causing you to waste time.
Grenadier (3 in Deck)
200 attack (M), range 2-3. Splashes 50% to all units/crystals touching the target, inc. diagonal. Ignores line of sight (i.e. you can shoot over blocking units, crystals, whatever).
Splash Damage to Crystal gets 50% of Boost Tile Bonus (i.e. 180 if non-engineer is on the boost tile, 210 if engineer)
50% of attack (M), range 1 (i.e., half damage in melee range)
In the very beginning of the game, the fact that his damage is "only" 200, and he does 1/2 damage in melee range, are real disadvantages only partially offset by the range. However, once both sides start to deploy their teams, the grenadiers splash damage becomes a major factor. There are many ways to use them:
(1) Grenadiers can pop, shoot and retreat
(2) An unupgraded grenadier can move into range, attack 4 times and sit there, knowing that if he is traded off, its OK ... and the enemy is left with damage to multiple units
(3) Unupgraded, they can freely be traded for generally stronger units like an archer, super unit, or any runemetal upgraded unit, because you dont need 3 to be effective.
(4) Fully upgraded and bubbled, their range and AOE makes them highly problematic.
(5) They can be used in momentum plays. For example, move up, runemetal up, attack, scroll up, attack again can leave tons of bodies on the ground, sometimes beyond the ability of your adversary to heal. Because the grenadier is untouchable given the scope of the carnage, you get to attack again the next turn, potentially collecting stomps on the second turn.
(6) They can be used to damage crystal from range 4 if there is a unit touching the crystal. No other faction has a unit that can do this.
So...grenadiers are great, but dont fall in love with the splash damage to the degree that you let it blind you. For example, dont blindly wack a crystal without a boost tile just because one or even two units will take splash damage. You need to think about what your adversary can do with the time you are giving him . . . he may not need to heal, and might be able to seize important board position.
Dwarven Brew ("Beer") (2 in Deck)
Restores 1000 HP (i.e. not necessarily a full heal of an upgraded paladin)
Adds 50% M/P resist lasting for one hit. Stacks with other resist bonuses. If target is bubbled, buff remains when shield is broken.
Although far short of the utility of the Council potion, Beer is still very valuable to your team. For example, if considering an offense into enemy territory with a solo shotgunner to do big damage to multiple units, it may be a problem that your adversary will KO your shotgunner, knowing that your pally is far away and wont have enough time to get to you and heal you to full. A beer in hand, or the risk of a beer in hand, changes this dynamic, as the paladin will only need to get to you and rez you, creating the risk that you will have a full health shotgunner with a defensive buff in your midst to deal with. Beer can also be important on defense, where you dont have enough time to fully heal all your units, for example, because you just got scroll attacked by a wizard. These two examples illustrate the main use of beer -- to save an AP (or two, if you are healing a high health unit) in situations where that saving of time is important, while simultaneously applying a defensive buff to a unit that is likely at risk of further attacks. However, beer is also commonly applied pre-damage, for the defensive buff. While this is not generally a comparatively high value use of beer, it can be situationally appropriate if it allows you to get or maintain the board position you want. If nothing else, using a beer solely for the buff churns an item while achieving some utility, which is sometimes the best you can do.
Pulvarizer ("Drill") (2 in Deck)
600 Damage (P)
900 Damage With Physical Damage Debuff on Target With 0 P Restance (including Crystal)
1260 Damage on Crystal With Debuff + One Boost Tile (non-engineer)
1320 Damage on Crystal With Debuff + One Boost Tile (engineer)
Max of 1740 Damage on Crystal With Debuff and Engineers on 2 Boost Tiles
Splash Damage of 33% of Total Damage To Crystal Hits All Units Touching Crystal (Even diagonally). Thus, a boost tile and/or annihilator debuff to the crystal increases splash damage. Splash is not reduced by magic or physical resistance.
The Drill is arguably the best spell item. It is a fantastic unit killer, and can allow you to kill high value units when a scroll would not. For example, the runemetal archer that is 4 squares away from an engineer may feel safe, but its not -- the engineer moves twice, uses the drill, kills the archer and stomps it. This particularly kill would not be possible with a scroll, the engineer would be one action short. Having 4 very strong unit killers (the scrolls and drills) creates justifiable fear in opposing players. Its very hard to safely deploy a runemetal unit against the Dwarves, and many strong players will sit on their runemetal until the board suggests a safe place for an upgraded unit, or the Dwarven player uses their Drills. Similarly, units with two armor upgrades are also very tempting, especially if they are threatening something (a boost tile, a problematic attack, etc) and the Drill is good at killing those, removing the defense bonus of the shield in the first hit. Moreover, with 4 unit killing items, the Dwarves have the freedom to use one to bag a somewhat lower value unit than another player, and you might sometimes gamble that you will be changing the battlefield for the better by killing an enemy unit with 1 or 0 upgrades. For instance, I lost a game when an opponent used a drill and sacrificial gunner on an archer. I dont know whether this is a "good" trade for the Dwarves in the abstract -- I generally like to get a double upgraded unit or one with runemetal for a drill, but archers are special -- but the archer was my only deployed offense, and the rest of my deck was poor -- I lost that game. Also keep in mind that Drills do physical damage, so that a unit debuffed by the annihilator will take extra damage when drilled -- for example, a seemingly unkillable wraith would take 900 damage.
Drills are also great at killing crystal. 600 damage + the impact of boost tiles + the impact of an annihilator debuff and you are talking serious damage, as you can see above. Using a drill on a crystal also does 1/3 of its total damage to the crystal as splash damage to the surrounding units, and the splash damage increases if boost tiles are occupied. Every once in a while, using a drill or double drill against a crystal will KO a bunch of units that your opponent though were safe from your AOE units, and can actually win a game.
Because Drills are good in both roles, you need to adjust your strategy based on the board. Dont use a drill on crystal early, even with boost tiles, because its a wasted drill if you dont end up going for a crystal win. Better to wait and see if you have opportunities to kill high value units with the drill, or get into a crystal rush scenario.
Not much to say, it works the same as the scrolls of Council and the Dark Elves, x3 damage on your next attack with the scroll unit. The only subtle differences in how they are used are that:
(1) the excellence of the drill at unit kills perhaps allows you to be a little more free with your use of scrolls. Still, scrolls are fantastic and you do have to get good value. In general, that still means a double upgraded unit potentially causing you a problem or a runemetal unit, just as it does for the other races, but you do have a bit more freedome to take less;
(2) the strength of your AOE units more frequently gives you the opportunity to use scrolls to build irresistible momentum. Move into position, knock 3-5 units on the ground using a scroll, then after they desperately try to heal, knock em down again and stomp what makes sense to stomp. Sometimes, when your adversary is really badly cluttered, using a scroll to gain momentum can involve a longer range plan beyond two turns, because with that degree of clutter, it can be really hard for your adversary to recover. As a result, you just keep barraging, generally while simultaneously damaging crystal, with initiative that can persist 3, 4 turns or longer. The degree of initiative that can be built up can be very very problematic for the cluttered opponent.
Scroll vs. Drill When you can use both to kill a unit, which should you use? Early on, I'd say use the scroll, because pre-upgrading, the drill can more easily get kills. Once you have upgraded units and your opponent has armored units, its a much closer question and you should look ahead and see what you think you are likely to need. In general, after the opening phase, the Drill is a little easier to use for big damage on a crystal, by a scroll might actually be able to shift the unit battle a bit more by, for example, scrolling up an upgraded shotgunner or grenadier and leaving 3+ bodies eating dirt.
Match Up Tips
Council: This match up can go many different ways because both teams are flexible and can for crystal or units. A few things to be aware of:
Watch for runemetal upgraded units, or other good opportunities to use it. Wtih a good deployment, those runemetal archers will rarely be safe indefinitely. If you dont have a drill, there is an obvious advantage to trying to get one if you reasonably can. Many players will avoid deploying runemetal with the drills in play, at least until they can get favorable conditions for deployment;
Body Blocking If a runemetal archer is not killable, you may be able to body block. As discussed in the section on pallies, a fully geared and bubbled pally can only be scroll killed by a runemetal archer that starts in range or on a sword tile. Otherwise, the archer spends one turn to move, one to scroll, one to pop the bubble and has only one to shoot -- which doesnt KO the pally, meaning it cant be stomped. Considering nothing else can resist a runemetal archer this way, its very nice to have one pally tricked out and a backup pally ready to heal the main pally. For less deadly enemies than the runemetal archer, an ordinary bubbled unit may work very well as a blocker;
Spread the Debuff Like Plague Tag upgraded units and knights with the annihilator if you can to make them ripe for drills and shotgunners. Of course, dont waste AP running around doing this, but when its convenient and the board allows, the more debuffed units the merrier.
Clutter/AOE Watch for clutter, which can be an opportunity to use AOE. Council loves to hide archers behind crystals or body block, tactics that dont work well with grenadiers in play;
The Early Game The Dwarves biggest problem may be early on, as an archer that has time to set up can really ruin your day by keeping you off a boost tile on some maps, or preventing you from advancing as you normally would. On some maps, you can deploy slower, building your core, while on others (chiefly the 3 barbed crystal map) you probably dont have time to be slow. When you do need to deploy with reasonable speed, use beer, pallies, bubbles, trading, drill kills ... anything and everything you need to use to get yourself the time to do that.
Wizards If your key units are helmed and bubbled, wizards may well not be a huge threat. Or they might be. Just because your AOE is superior on paper doesnt mean wizards cant be a problem, especially because Dwarven units often travel in packs. You have to calculate it, and have a plan to deal with the wizard, or he may potentially cause you grief for an extended cycle of healing and damage -- all the while your crystal may be getting damaged. Take them seriously and plan.
Crystal Rushing Both teams are good at crystal rushing, and generally speaking, neither can let the other get too much of a lead. The Dwarves do have a greater crystal defense capability, so you may be able to tolerate a crystal defecit if you get a big advantage on board position and/or units. Still, many games are decided by who gets better positioning and the ability to launch a full out crystal attack first.
Early: The DE have 3 good offensive units while you have two, they have some self healing, and their units are better 1 on 1 fighters until you can gear and bubble your units. Accordingly, they may look to get a fast start and prevent you from developing in an orderly fashion, trading away your offense, and using scrolls to kill paladins, armored or runemetal'd units. Remember, against the DE you generally have some time...they arent typically a crystal win team. So if the DE are pressuring you hard and fast early, take your time, stay safe and compact. On most maps, its totally fine if the DE get a small crystal lead.
Watch Grouping/Soul Harvest: In the longer term, if you pack too tightly, and to some extent if you dont, the DE units will gain a lot of health from soul harvest. Dont let it take you out of your game plan, but try not to let the DE use soul harvest on too many units at once if you can help it, as the health gain keeps increasing as they hit more units.
Formations vs. A Motion Offense: The battle can go many different ways because these teams are flexible, but if the DE play to their strength, they will generally attempt to deploy very aggressively, to flank, use impalers (moving units at times) and void monks (AOE and popping multiple bubbles) to create weaknesses and trade vulnerable units. Gifted with more offensive units, the DE can trade offense for offense, but remember, it is the Dwarves upgraded units that really matter. In short, they will try and swarm, control critical board position, and create havoc. If the DE are unable to achieve this type of pressure, the Dwarves may end up throwing the DE onto the defensive with a devastating crystal attack -- which is not a happy place for the DE to be. Because the Dwarves are a good crystal team, the DE cannot afford to play leisurely. If the DE do have enough pressure to prevent a sharp crystal attack/rush, the Dwarves may counter the DE activity with a group of well-geared and bubbled units (almost a formation, although watch the soul harvest issue) that is hopefully too well protected for the DE to crack, and has the flexibility to hit DE units or crystal, at times doing both thanks to their excellent AOE.
Crystal Rushing: If the DE let the Dwarves get a decent lead on crystal, you may be able to win via a rush. The grenadier's range makes him hard to stop, and the damage when backed by a boost tile is good. Drills do good damage to crystal, and benefit from boost tiles and the annihilator debuff. Finally, shotgunners make good rushing units, because they can attack from range, melee range, or diagonally, and upgraded, scrolled and/or on the sword tile, their damage can be high, particularly against a debuffed crystal.
Lets get something out of the way -- we arent going to fall for the spike shield popping a bubble thing, right? I have literally lost a game that way.
In this match-up Dwarves benefit from the use of their powerful AOE. Any race playing against the tribe prefers to stomp multiple units at once when you do stomp (to minimize the number of times you face rage) and the Dwarves have a good chance at that. Also, if you can do heavy damage and force the tribe to heal, shaman healing uses up rage.
The bubble is also an asset -- i.e., rage doesnt normally help against a bubbled target. Two exceptions: on the barbed crystal map, a crystal can be used to pop a bubble, allowing the raged unit to attack with rage. Also, if the Tribe has a newly deployed unit (i.e. deployed after the other units on the field acquired rage) the new unit can take the bubble off, allowing the raged unit to use its rage on the now unbubbled target.
Of course, their are problems as well. Dwarves often like to operate in proximity, to get the pally bonus and because Pallies only heal from range 2, and wave can both push a unit into danger while sending its supporting pally in the opposite direction. The Dwarves lack of a ranged stomp means your likely to get up close and personal with raged units.
Save some serious firepower for Chieftains, which can be a real problem. Scrolled impalers can work well. The drill can work well if the Chieftain is debuffed by the annihilator.
Beyond that, there really isnt much to say other than be incredibly careful, and always ask your self what would happen if the Tribe uses any of its various bag of tricks, waves, chieftains, meat and the like. In particular, watch out for witches (and upgraded witches) on sword tiles, and kill them if you can. Its so hard to operate safely with the risk of being waved into range of an ugpraded witch on a sword tile.