Age of Sigmar: Retreating

I recently read a very useful article written by the Age of Sigmar Tactics blog. You can read the original article here. There is not much to say other than the information contained therein is great for this highly underused tactic. I will leave you to read the article yourself, but I will be analyzing these tactics in regards to Dwarfs/Dispossessed/Duardin broken down in the same manner as the article for ease of reading.

For those of you new to Age of Sigmar, the rules in the General’s Handbook states:

Units starting the movement phase within 3″ of an enemy unit can either remain stationary or retreat. If you choose to retreat, the unit must end its move more than 3″ away from all enemy units. If a unit retreats, then it can’t shoot or charge later that turn.

So it’s essentially running but it allows you to run out of the 3″ combat zone. The downside obviously being the same as when running: No shooting or charging. There are exceptions, however. (Skaven coming to mind)

BUT! You do not have to run directly away from an enemy. You just have end outside of 3″ as to be out-of-combat. You can retreat in any direction, and if your units have flying then you can retreat over other models. This can be handy for units like gyro bombers but I’ll get into that in another section.

Oi umgi, Dwarfs don’t retreat!

Applying Pressure

For Dwarfs, with our movement/threat range already so small, applying pressure can be a challenge. Our pressure normally comes from the gun-line and artillery. But with the current rules for artillery, you may find yourself killing a lot, or killing nothing at all. In a straight out slog fest the pressure comes from these units, as the opponent is going to want to close into melee sooner rather than later. With most Dwarf units having shields and the ability to reroll failed saves when in a shield wall, the option to retreat to apply additional pressure is negligible at best. Objective based games however present a much better opportunity for pressure to be applied.

Pressuring Objectives

Last minute captures or retreating into a defensive position around an objective marker could make or break a game. Especially in those scenarios where the value of controlling an objective goes up based on the round number. This where your defensive units such as Dwarf Warriors, Longbeards and Ironbreakers will come in handy. Keep in mind, however, that after a retreat you cannot re-enter shield wall, so you’re going to need to find a way to keep the unit they are retreating from occupied while they set up a defensive line. If the enemy unit is engaged with another friendly unit, then I would say the retreat is safe. Otherwise you may want to re-think retreating as the enemy could just give chase.

Pressuring Key Targets

Enemy heroes or monsters are a real threat to Dwarfs. Most tend to apply more than one wound per hit and with the Dwarf average save being a 4+ (5+ for regular Warriors) a rend of -1 or better could spell disaster for your army. These units need to have pressure applied to either force your opponent to make them retreat, or even let them charge into a not ideal situation (Such as against buffed Ironbreakers or Longbeards.)

This is where retreating around an enemy unit to gain access to another is an appropriate strategy. As with before, this wont work if you leave a combat where the enemy units can just follow you, so ensure the unit you are retreating from has another unit they must engage.

Retreating from a Losing or Undesirable Fight

I see this happen from time to time. A unit of Thunderers or Quarrelers get dragged into combat due to tactical pile-in positioning. Most people just allow them to remain in combat (I am guilty of this as well.) and even engage them in melee. This is not ideal. If the enemy has piled in to within 3″ but is still outside of melee range then keep your thunderers where they are. You can choose to NOT pile in so why risk them? On the other-hand, if they are in melee range you have a decision to make:

Keep them engaged and risk losing them, but keep your next shooting phase or retreat them to safety but lose your next shooting phase with them.

The decision is going to based on a number of factors such as: Will retreating them put them into a more advantageous position? (Move closer to an objective. Close off access to an objective. Protect another unit. Etc.) Will the already engaged unit survive the combat without the Thunderer’s next shooting phase? Will being stuck in melee restrict me from shooting a more appropriate enemy in the near future? All these question you need to ask before you make your next move.

Lastly, the Gyrobomber is an ideal model than could benefit from most forms of retreating. Let’s face it: Gyros are not good in melee point, blank, period. They have a mediocre save and even their weapons aren’t great. Their goal is to be applying mortal wounds with their bombs. If you have somehow been able to keep your bomber alive (They tend to get focused early on.) until the actual fighting has begun then retreating can be your best friend. Thier rule on bombing states:

A unit of Gyrobombers can drop Grudgebuster bombs as they fly over enemy units. To do so, pick one enemy unit the Gyrobombers flew over in the movement phase. Then roll one dice for each Gyrobomber in the unit; each time you roll a 4 or more the unit being bombed suffers D3 mortal wounds.

The keyword being “Movement Phase”. This means it doesn’t matter if the bomber Moved, Ran or Retreated. If the bomber flew over an enemy unit it can bomb them. So if your bomber gets engaged and survives, the best course of action would be to retreat it as it can still “attack” so to speak. This is how you perform bombing runs.

Retreating for Mobility

Lastly, the article talks about movement ability that can only be utilized during movement or during charges. As far as I am aware, only the Gyros have any sort of ability that involves movement. For our ground units, this point is somewhat moot.


The Double Turn

The elusive double turn in Age of Sigmar can make retreating more viable. It gives you the extra time to setup a defensive wall or immediately charge that unit elsewhere. Never expect a double turn though.


Dwarfs don’t have many reasons to retreat. We can retreat for objectives, key targets or even for certain units who should have no business being in melee. Certain units, such as the Gyros, do gain benefits from retreating regularly in order to attempt to dish out some much needed mortal wounds. But for the most part, when Dwarfs get into battle, they are there till everyone is dead.

I hope you enjoyed my breakdown of the Age of Sigmar Tactics article in regards to Dwarfs. If you enjoyed my post, please support the blog by following or leaving a comment.