When GW changed the rules on characters joining war machines in 8th edition, and with the introduction of the new Dwarf army book, the Master Engineer got a working over that seriously damaged his credibility as a hero option. He can no longer man up the artillery crews to protect his beloved toys of destruction; and his practised eye is no longer so keen when using his BS instead of the crew members. The only thing of value that he really brings to the table is the ability to entrench a valuable piece of equipment. Some opponents don’t like this, and as I found recently entrenchment is a double edged sword.
When you entrench a war machine it is treated as being in hard cover when shot at and any charging unit suffer a -1 to hit modifier in close combat. Pretty effective, again not as good as it used to be, but it still gives some players cause for concern. Although there are ways to beat it and if the dwarf player moves the war machine for any reason, it destroys the entrenchment and it cannot be rebuilt.
So why would a Dwarf player pass up the opportunity to protect a useful commodity such as his Organ Gun? Well besides the fact that entrenching isn’t what it used to be, it is not an opportunity many dwarf generals would pass on. Especially with the tricks that some opponents keep up their overly long sleeves.
However my recent experience with entrenching, and comments from my opponent at the end of the game, makes me think is it always a good option. I was lucky enough to get two games in one evening not long ago, I had my Dwarfs, my oppo had High Elves, always love a War of the Beard pay back session. The points level was purposely low, I had an early start the next day, so wanted a quick game. We opted for a 1500 pts open engagement. When I saw what I was facing for the points level I was shocked. There was a Frost Heart Phoenix, White Lion Chariot, 9 Silver helms and a large unit of Phoenix Guard lead by none other than Caradryan. I reached for my entrenchment, and a curiously thing happened, my oppo with this army of dwarf munching units all stood back and did nothing more than shuffle a few units about. My Quarellers and Gyro-copter had to take the fight to them, and even though only Elven blood was spilt, the final result was a draw. My oppo summed it up well with the phrase “Well that was boring”. He was kind of right; but I feel that it was his fear of the entrenchment, rather than my using it that was the root cause. I was using my strengths to counter a fast moving, skilled and powerful army, and the net gain was somewhat dull, but to be fair I was quite happy with a draw.
As I say we did play a second game which had more action, and saw his Silver Helms dodge some blasting charges to wipe out my Miners, and my Dragon Slayer stepped up to the mark to disembowel the Frost Heart, a better game but still dictated by the fear of entrenchment. So I believe that entrenchment still has its place on the gaming table, but it might just net you a few boring draws.