Ralf Schemmann's Man O'War Fleets

The Dwarf Fleet

"Dwarfs are masters of steam technology and metalworking and their fleets reflect this. Their ships are massive armoured craft covered in baroque and intricate wrought ironwork. Crewed by highly trained sailors and very skilled engineers, each dwarf ship carries many spare parts for carrying out field repairs, making them virtually unsinkable." (Man O'War rulebook, p. 43)

Dwarf fleet
Dwarf fleet (2 Dreadnoughts, 3 Ironclads, 1 Monitor squadron,
3 Nautilus submarines)

Building the Dwarf fleet was a real change after all the sailing ships of the Bretonnian and Empire fleets. The basic shapes of the Dwarven ships made it relatively easy to construct them from cardboard, only the Nautilus posed a bit of a challenge because of its more rounded shape.

When we first played the Dwarfs against the Human fleets, we it found it pretty weak. We improved the resistance vs. Magic (3-6 on d6 instead of only 6 on d6), but that didn't help much. I think the designers at GW realized the same and therefore introduced a new Dwarven ship: The Dreadnought. This powerful new man o'war helped counter the Dwarves weaknesses, but some of us still think the Dwarven fleet is not quite a match for Bretonnians or the Dark Elves.

The main weaknesses of the Dwarven ships are their low fire power (although their turrets are more flexible in direction they have less guns in total) and the susceptibility of their propulsion systems to damage. Hits in either boiler or wheel locations prevent Dwarven ships from moving, usually resulting in lots of unmoving Dwarven ships on the battle field.

On the other hand, the ships have great armour values and their masters unique ability to repair damage. These to factors combined make the Dwarven ships extremely tough to sink. Once we had a Dreadnought on the table that was burning brightly from bow to stern. I - as the Bretonnian player - turned my attention to other targets because I thought it was out of the game. Then the flames went out location by location and the Dwarfs began to repair. At the end of the game (which I lost) the Dreadnought was happily paddling through the waters with hardly a damaged location left.

Individual ships


The Dreadnought

The Dreadnought is the most recent design of the dwarven engineers and literally "dwarfs" its predecessor as flagship, the Ironclad. With 2 broadside cannons and four turrets, the Dreadnought can bring an immense fire power to bear in any direction. Another advantage is the decentralization of the locomotion, i.e. both paddle locations must be destroyed before the Dreadnought stops moving altogether. The boiler location is still a weakness though; one hit immobilizes the Dreadnought.

Of course such a mighty ship comes with a price: With 200 points the dreadnought is one of the more expensive man o'wars in the game. Still it is perhaps the dwarfs' best unit.


The Ironclad

Originally the dwarven fleet's only man o'war and flagship, the Ironclad has one major weakness: It is undergunned for a ship of its cost. Although it can bring 3 guns to bear on a broadside, these consist of only three gun locations (1 broadside, two turrets), which can be destroyed relatively quickly. With only three cew, the Ironclad is also not very well suited to boarding actions.

The Ironclad's advantages are good armor saves and wind independence, but overall it seems inferior to both Imperial Greatships and Bretonnian Galleons which cost the same amount of points.

We have though about reclassifying the Monitor as a ship of the line and oragnizing them into squadrons of 300 points, but that seemd a bit too cheap in comparison to Corsais and Wolfships.

Monitor Squadron


If the fleet list did not require it, hardly anyone would take a squadron of Monitors for his fleet. They are awfully easy to immobilize or sink and their firepower is mediocre. The ram might be their best attack and is a little easier to execute than with rowing ships, but still Monitors are probably best suited to finishing up stragglers and damaged ships after the main battle has moved elsewhere.



The Nautilus submarine is a unique dwarven invention. It can dive beneath the waves every other round during which it is not targetable by attacks and can itself fire a torpedo at enemy ships. While the torpedo is not very reliable, it has the potential for doing extensive below the waterline damage and sinking even large ships in one hit.

While not exactly cheap (75 points per ship) and pretty fragile the Nautilus can make an effective weapon for the Dwarven fleet, if it manages to score some torpedo hits.

I love the way the scratch built model turned out. Overlapping sheets of cardboard give it a fish-like appearance which is very true to the original models.

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Created by Ralf Schemmann, last updated: October 5th 2005