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You only get three dwarves for a base, whose special ability is an extra victory token for mine tiles, and that this ability is retained when in decline.

This seems like a rip off! There are other races (like humans) who get an extra VP for farms, and they get almost twice as many from memory. The fact that you get to keep them when in decline doesn't especially help, as they're much easier to kill in decline.

So is there a reason why dwarves are apparently treated as powerful? What strategy should one use to utilise them?

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This seems like a rant. Is there an actual question you are asking here? – murgatroid99 Jul 29 '14 at 2:56
What is the rationale for there being only three dwarves? Am I missing some strategy for using the dwarves? – dwjohnston Jul 29 '14 at 3:27
I suggest that you put that in your question then. Right now it just reads like a complaint about game imbalance. – murgatroid99 Jul 29 '14 at 3:29
I don't know if you've missed something in the rules, but you can get as many as 8 dwarves depending on what their special power is. Since there are no special powers with a token modifier of 0, it's actually impossible to only get 3 dwarves to start. – doppelgreener Jul 29 '14 at 8:21
@JonathanHobbs Yes i'm aware of the combo modifier, but I'm talking about the dwarf component of it. – dwjohnston Jul 29 '14 at 12:10
up vote 12 down vote accepted

Because their power continues to work in decline, Dwarves are not intended to be played for very long. In most cases probably 2 turns with them is all you should be doing. Get 2 or 3 mine spots, and move on to your next race. This is why there are fewer Dwarves, because you aren't intended to use them for more than a couple turns or to conquer more than just a few spots.

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This. The ability to work in decline is very powerful in early game, especially as most of the mines are in difficult to conquer areas. – deworde Jul 29 '14 at 12:52
@deworde I think calling the Dwarves "very powerful" is a bit of an overstatement. They are pretty universally considered the weakest race. – bwarner Jul 29 '14 at 18:38
@bwarner The effect is powerful. The handicap is too much. – deworde Jul 29 '14 at 19:08

Fortified Dwarves = takes 3 mines, one on the mountain, get 9 coins from three regions, in decline

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