"Yeah - looking back it was the Battle of Dungal Hill that started it. After that so called `glorious victory´ every damn dwarf kid wanted to a miner. Heroes of the Dungal Hill. Heroes my ass. And we were just too blind to see what was happening. The guild elders told us that it´s just a mode quirk that will wear out in a couple of years. How could we not see what was coming!”
“It took a few years but slowly things started to change. We the sappers were still an important asset in almost every army. You know - building stockades and bridges. And even doing demolitions if needed. With our tools and prefabricated materials we could set up a defensive strongpoint in a matter of minutes. That´s what I call professionalism!”
“But at the same time the use of miners on a battlefield was studied at the Dwarven Royal Military Academy (DRMA) and miner education was increased in every vocational school across the dwarven realms. Being a sapper was no longer considered ´cool´ and we got only those kids deemed unfit for being a miner.”
“Then came the big sieges of Barak Varr and the Iron Rock and sealed our faith. You know - in a pitched battle you have to be able to build that stockade or bridge fast. And it was us sappers who could do that. Sieges are different. They take time and the generals soon noticed that normal grunts could do the earthworks and tunnel digging themselves. It didn´t matter that it took longer - they had all the time in the world. The grunts did with no extra pay and our union was not ready to renegotiate the sapper salaries.”
*a really big sip*
“So the commanders did some quick math, money made our world go around and all of a sudden we were no longer needed in those sieges. Over the time we were sort of forgotten. No longer were we called even for a normal campaign. We became obsolete. Many sappers re-educated themselves to miners, many became unemployed. And stayed that way. Structural unemployment - that´s what the clan elders called it. Ah - then there´s me - building fences and walls for rich ladies´ gardens all around the Empire to put the food on the table for my family. How sad is that?!?”.
Five lovely sapper teams by TL. Check SoL for
more Oldhammer dwarf engineer models.
Sappers appeared in the 1987 published Ravening Hordes - The Official Warhammer Battle Army Lists for 2nd edition WFB. They are indroduced under the dwarf army list as special troops. Once again WG has been faithful to their ever appearing unconsistency - there rules are there but the sappers don´t exits in the army list itself! How typical.
2nd edition WFB - the rules are there but troop list
and points value are missing. From Ravening Hordes.
For 3rd edition the rules evolved a bit. The unit size for sappers is fixed as a two model team and rules for building streamlined a bit. Same options for building and demolishing are retained with small rule modifications. And now there´s the points value too.
Sappers as per 3rd edition rule book. Now with points value too.
The tactical use of sappers is not widely - or actually not at all - discussed in the 3rd edition books. In the Ravening hordes we find this paragraph that gives a good idea on where and how to employ them.
Build cover. Stand and shoot. Sounds good to me.
Warhammer Siege brought us detailed rules for castles and how to attack and defend them. Sappers are mentioned there under special troop types. They gice certain bonuses to mining and contruction works.
Sappers are recognized in the Warhammer Siege.
With 4th edition the sappers were lost. What we got instead was the dwarf miners. Who in the beginning were just another unit of infantry but carrying two-handed picks. No building or demolishing. Nothing special. The tactical use of building stockades as described above lost. Just a bunch of new models to be bought. Pretty dull. I guess the original sapper rules, even in their simplicity, were just too complicated for the new way of playing Warhammer.
4th edition Dwarf miner unit from Dwarf army book page 87.
Could it be any more uninspiring?
Dwarf sappers make a reappearence in a form of Dwarfen expert engineers in the 6th edition WFB. Very little information about them can be found apart from this page kindly delivered Josh. But as we see they construct walls and do other kinds of building and demolishing works. The rules cover just the wall building and all else is left for GM to determine.
6th edition "sappers".
At the current end of the line for sappers/miners stands the AoS. At least in this Warscroll for dwarfs (or Duardin?) there are miners who can set up underground and emerge in your movement phase no closer than 9" of enemy anywhere on the battlefield. Either they dig really fast or they can really well predict where the enemy is going to be.
A miner unit can have a biting mule drawing a steam harpoon armed cart and their leader can wield a steam drill. And the miners can throw blasting charges too. Not my kind of miners really.
Hope you liked this first look on lost troop types. Sound out if you want to read about foresters, falconers or something else that was lost in history.