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"Should Dwarves have cavalry?" Topic

51 Posts

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12 May 2019 4:39 p.m. PST
by Editor in Chief Bill

  • Removed from TMP Poll Suggestions boardCrossposted to Fantasy Discussion board

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845 hits since 11 Sep 2018
©1994-2019 Bill Armintrout
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Personal logo PrivateSnafu Supporting Member of TMP11 Sep 2018 8:40 a.m. PST

The idea that a dwarf would ride a bear into battle doesn't sit right with my particular sense of fantasy.

Can you really outflank a bunch of dwarf armored like tanks?

A war machine I can buy into, cavalry not so much.

Should dwarves have cavalry and if so, what mounts?

Winston Smith11 Sep 2018 8:44 a.m. PST

Sure. Why not?

PzGeneral11 Sep 2018 8:50 a.m. PST

I envisioned them on armored up Boars…

CSherrange11 Sep 2018 8:53 a.m. PST

they could ride ponies, or breed their own horses. Hell, if you read some of the accounts of the horses avaliable to the romans, dwarves would sit on them much like a modern person rides a horse

Personal logo PrivateSnafu Supporting Member of TMP11 Sep 2018 8:58 a.m. PST


You are answering a question with a question. It's my worthless opinion and that's enough. You say "sure", but what should they ride?

Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian11 Sep 2018 8:58 a.m. PST

I think someone makes them on rams, too.

DisasterWargamer Supporting Member of TMP11 Sep 2018 9:12 a.m. PST

Sure on bears and other larger four legged animals

Night Owl III11 Sep 2018 9:14 a.m. PST

I agree with DisasterWargamer. I've always thought bears were the only mounts worth much to dwarves.

Personal logo Patrick R Supporting Member of TMP11 Sep 2018 9:19 a.m. PST

There is no reason why Dwarves shouldn't have cavalry, for some reason everyone has taken Tolkien's claim that short people can't ride horses at face value and have continued the trend and introduced riding animals that are in fact even harder to ride than horses …

There is nothing wrong with horses, they are extremely suitable as cavalry in a way that most other animals that look quite similar are not.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP11 Sep 2018 9:30 a.m. PST

Mounted Dwarves never feel quite right to me, and I try to avoid making my fantasy armies tactically the same. So my Halfling army has no serious heavy infantry unless Dwarves show up as allies, and the Dwarves similarly have no cavalry unless they get Halfling mounted bowmen on ponies. My (sort of western European) Mannish army has no mounted bows, and so forth.

But I'm a tabletop battle person, not a map and pins campaigner. If I were running a campaign, I'd posit a few Dwarven mounted scouts on ponies. (And Patrick R, as a scout I'd try really hard to have an animal short enough that I could mount it unaided. There's never a mounting block around when you really need one. See Goblin Reservation.)

ZULUPAUL Supporting Member of TMP11 Sep 2018 9:42 a.m. PST

Only a few leader types IMHO. I have some mounted on bears & a couple of "winged hussars" on rams.

victor0leto11 Sep 2018 10:00 a.m. PST

The dwarves in my campaign settings (RPG type games) ride giant tortoises. When they form a line, the tortoises pull in their heads and lower their front legs creating an almost unmovable wall.

Personal logo Flashman14 Supporting Member of TMP11 Sep 2018 10:06 a.m. PST

I'm fine with armored boars over bears as there's no risk of them rearing up in the same way.

From Ghost Miniatures:


Personal logo miniMo Supporting Member of TMP11 Sep 2018 10:15 a.m. PST


* Bears
* Boars
* Giant Armadillos
* Ponies
* Rams

Garand11 Sep 2018 10:16 a.m. PST

Agree, no cavalry. One trap that some fantasy armies get into is making sure everyone is covered in every slot. So dwarfs get cavalry on a variety of ridiculous animals no one in their right mind would use as riding mounts. And have to be better at it than everyone else (goblins get wargs, but dwarfs get bears, because…). But personally I like it better if dwarfs didn't have any cavalry or at least heavy cavalry. It gives them a weakness that you have to overcome in other areas to compensate. Dwarfs already get the best heavy infantry (traditionally), so now we have to give them bear cavalry?


Tommy2011 Sep 2018 10:32 a.m. PST

Yes, on donkeys!

TMP link

rustymusket Supporting Member of TMP11 Sep 2018 10:38 a.m. PST

I have some on bears and cows, but I don't think it is realistic due to my view of dwarves, but I may be incorrect in my assumptions.

Gunfreak Supporting Member of TMP11 Sep 2018 10:43 a.m. PST

Sure they can ride mounts, just as Saxons could, but they generally didn't. And so dwarfs don't (from a none fantasy player)

VCarter Supporting Member of TMP11 Sep 2018 10:46 a.m. PST

No mounted dwarves in my collection.

Goblins have warg riders and even a few warg chariots.

Orcs, hobgoblins, ratmen, and ogres all walk, except one orcish leader on a hell horse and one hag spawn on an oversized horse.

Humans and elves have normal horse mounted cavalry.

hurrahbro11 Sep 2018 10:54 a.m. PST

They are a race that mostly lives underground, so pit pony charriots, at a push!

Cacique Caribe11 Sep 2018 11:51 a.m. PST

Yep. If they're gonna ride boars, they better have appropriate protection. Perhaps a good cod piece, in addition to their saddle.

As most of you guys already know, boars have extremely tough and stiff bristles on their backs. :)



Cerdic Supporting Member of TMP11 Sep 2018 12:04 p.m. PST

Well if they live underground they should be riding Pit-Ponies…

Personal logo Doctor X Supporting Member of TMP11 Sep 2018 12:38 p.m. PST

That's what elves are for.

Timbo W11 Sep 2018 1:03 p.m. PST

Ponies for dwarves, but just a few for scouts etc in a Tolkienesqe setting, after all Thorin et Al rode ponies at the start of the Hobbit. For, 'freestyle' fantasy, why not ride whatever, anything goes.

Personal logo miniMo Supporting Member of TMP11 Sep 2018 1:24 p.m. PST

For the underground dwelling Dwarves:

* Giant Woodchucks

Winston Smith11 Sep 2018 1:25 p.m. PST

I'm not about tell a dwarf chieftain that he can't have cavalry. Are you nuts?

Legion 411 Sep 2018 2:43 p.m. PST

Good point Winston !!

Personal logo Parzival Supporting Member of TMP11 Sep 2018 3:25 p.m. PST

Mine don't, but I'm good with bears, ponies, rams, goats, "rock lizards" (D&D Known World), or whatever. Probably not boars, as that's what my GW orcs ride, and identical forces are boring.

Of course, with dwarves, the answer to the question "What would a dwarf ride" is "How much ale has the dwarf drunk?"

Old Glory Sponsoring Member of TMP11 Sep 2018 3:29 p.m. PST

It would seem?
Do you want them to have cavalry, then they have cavalry.
If you don't want them to have cavalry then they don't have cavalry.
They can ride any mount you fancy.

Since we are making it all up via our own imaginations after all.
Russ Dunaway

Cacique Caribe11 Sep 2018 3:48 p.m. PST

I can already imagine the new TMP poll question:

Is there a law in your fantasy universe against drunk riding?


magical monstrous steve11 Sep 2018 3:52 p.m. PST

Have you ever met a jockey? The premier equestrians are virtually all </= dwarf height.

SultanSevy11 Sep 2018 6:26 p.m. PST

Sure…. boars, rams, bears, ponies, badgers, anything you want.

Dn Jackson11 Sep 2018 6:30 p.m. PST

I have two small units on bears. Thanks Battle Valor!

The only D class unit in the army is a small unit of mounted scouts on ponies.

Greylegion11 Sep 2018 7:22 p.m. PST

Ha! Good point MM Steve.

Patrick Sexton Supporting Member of TMP11 Sep 2018 8:21 p.m. PST


Zephyr111 Sep 2018 8:48 p.m. PST

"Have you ever met a jockey? The premier equestrians are virtually all </= dwarf height."

Attila was pretty short. Imagine how much more legendary he would have been if he'd ridden a bear into battle… ;-)

SBminisguy12 Sep 2018 8:17 a.m. PST

I think it depends on your fantasy world.

1. Where do they live? If they are in the mountains, that's bad cavalry country regardless of your type of mount.

2. Do they live in more mixed terrain? More likely they will have some kind of cavalry.

3. Do the Dwarves stay pretty much to themselves? Then they will be less likely to have cavalry, fighting defensive wars with heavy infantry and missile weapons (bow, crossbow as you prefer) and some Dwarven missile engines.

4. Do the Dwarves take to the field to project power, are they often fighting to expand or defend new territory against other powers? If so, then cavalry makes more sense as a scouting and striking arm for a Dwarvish army.

I prefer a classical Tolkien style Dwarven culture -- mountain kingdoms who may engage in trade but other than fighting with goblins and others in the mountains do not generally field armies abroad. So they would field a core force of heavy infantry supported by skirmishers/scouts, missile troops and some type of missile/siege weapons, with little need for cavalry.

Personal logo miniMo Supporting Member of TMP12 Sep 2018 9:16 a.m. PST

Gnomes are a better jockey build than Dwarves.

Mountain terrain is a great place for pony or goat riding scouts and light cavalry.

Personal logo Sgt Slag Supporting Member of TMP12 Sep 2018 10:02 a.m. PST

I have Ram Cavalry, Boar Cavalry, and a few, leader types, riding massive Bears. It all works for me.

With regards to not every army having cavalry, I agree. Not every fantasy race army in my collection has cavalry: Gnomes, Kobolds, and Orcs immediately come to mind.

Goblins have: Light Wolf Cavalry, Medium Warg Cavalry, and aerial Giant Bat Cavalry (not terribly effective, but quite the sight to see them swarm atop an enemy unit!…).

I found some fantastic Lizard toys, which are perfect for my Caesar 1/72 plastic Lizardmen Army to create "Cavalry" for them. They are not fast, of course, and they may get distracted by all of the tasty meat lying freshly dead in front of them, on the battlefield, but that is what Discipline Checks are for! Note that even the Lizardmen troops may need to make a Discipline Check to avoid being… Distracted. What with their, "horrid feasts", and all, don't ya' know? [See Gary Gygax's description for Lizardmen, in his 1977 AD&D Monster Manual book.) Cheers!

USAFpilot Supporting Member of TMP12 Sep 2018 12:54 p.m. PST

All good fantasy is rational. Even though dragons don't exist; they must still adhere to the laws of physics when they fly. You typically don't see Dwarves wielding long swords and long bows because of their short stature. But you might say professional jockeys are short; they are but not stoute or thick as a Dwarf. Dwarves simply don't make good cavalry troopers and as such their culture developed differently than other races. They are better at being slow moving heavy infantry defending fixed fortifications.

Personal logo Herkybird Supporting Member of TMP12 Sep 2018 1:52 p.m. PST

I agree USAFpilot, I always viewed Dwarves as rather Dark Ages types, who feel the only honourable way to fight was on foot, who could ride ponies, but not in battle.

evilgong12 Sep 2018 2:58 p.m. PST

Tolkien's Dwarves, in the second age, hired human mercenaries to serve as light cavalry (and light infantry).

David B

Dust Warrior12 Sep 2018 6:04 p.m. PST

Badgers! Well in Mantica (Kings of War) anyway.

JimSelzer Supporting Member of TMP13 Sep 2018 1:26 a.m. PST

goats bears or boars all work for me

Winston Smith14 Sep 2018 7:51 a.m. PST

Does this mean that Elves aren't allowed heavy infantry, if Dwarves can't have cavalry?

Aethelflaeda was framed14 Sep 2018 8:22 a.m. PST

Only on horses or ponies and mostly as mounted infantry. No boars, bears or other such silliness…might as well mount them on screaming werebats if you want to go that route and defy history!

Garand14 Sep 2018 12:41 p.m. PST

Does this mean that Elves aren't allowed heavy infantry, if Dwarves can't have cavalry?

For Wood Elfs? Sure…


Personal logo miniMo Supporting Member of TMP11 Oct 2018 10:59 a.m. PST


Bull Centaurs.

Personal logo etotheipi Sponsoring Member of TMP11 Oct 2018 11:52 a.m. PST


Moles. Gophers. Prairie Dogs. Groundhogs. Rabbits. Bilbies.

All of the giant kind.

Toy Soldier Green17 Oct 2018 7:26 p.m. PST

Mine do.

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