I have been playing Dwarves for over three years and during this time I have discovered a few things about the tactics of Dwarven play. Though the random dice of combat can always rule against you, I have found, more often than not, that a good plan and sound strategy win. A good plan is based upon several things like army selection, terrain, setup, and battle tactics.
The strength of the dwarves is tough units with armor and in my armies I feature these units. I like the Hammerers as an elite unit as Dwarves go last anyway and with movement of three they do not get to charge. The Iron Breakers are good, but the armor save is not worth 5 points each. For the same reason the Miners and the Clansmen with double-handed weapons are good basic troops. As the Dwarves do not move, I like missile troops like Crossbowmen and Thunderers to be at least a third of my total troops. The Organ Gun is the best artillery piece, but it is a bit on the cheesy side even if there is no reason to take a cannon unless the board is larger than 48”. I do recommend 2-3 artillery pieces so, in the interest of fairness, every Dwarf player should take a cannon or two with the organ gun. The only other large thing worth taking is the Gyrocopter. It is the only fast moving troops Dwarves have and one, if not two, are worth including in every army. What I do not recommend is Slayers as, with leadership, nine Dwarves are immune to psychology but without armor Slayers are not immune to arrows. Also not recommended is the Throne of Power (it is a more expensive, worse and dispelable cannon), Bolt Thrower (why would you when the organ gun is better), and Stone Throwers of any type.
Once the army is chosen it is important to consider terrain. Dwarves are best on nice open fields with a hill for their cannons and no trees in site. This seldom happens. It is important to make sure there are substantial fields of fire for the artillery and for the missile troops. Trees are usually more trouble than good but they do form a nice hiding place for the Gyrocopters. Rivers are also dwarves friends as they often funnel the opponent to go a certain way and this makes artillery placement easier.
Once the board is laid out it is a simple matter to set up the troops. Perhaps the best set up is a single battle line with missile troops and artillery interspersed with combat troops. It is important that the artillery have a good field of fire and as such, their location is often chosen first although they should not be placed first. Artillery should also be spread out so a single flier does not disable all of them, and so they can get flanking fire. As the army is often very short on combat troops it is important to put these at the most likely place for the opponent to attack or even to encourage attacks on them by placing them forward of the other troops.
Before the battle even starts the battle strategy should be simple. In most cases, Dwarves should just sit still and fire. The only thing which gives this strategy trouble is a fair number of skirmishers. Thus if there are not skirmishers, the dwarves can relax fire and wait to countercharge anything which charges them. If fliers or fast moving troops threaten a side or a single artillery piece, then the whole line can move forward except the artillery which just turns to fire at the offending unit. If a group of cavalry charges a part of the line it is important to tie them up with any available units and then flank charge them with a combat unit. In all other cases, artillery should fire at single models (general, magic users, or monsters) first, then other artillery, then expensive troops. In all cases all missile troops should fire at the same thing to increase the chances of a break test. They can even fire at the same unit at which artillery fire but should only do so after the artillery have fired. Finally the Gyrocopters need to be saved for valuable missions. They are the army’s cavalry and the only troops really capable of catching fleeing troops. Gyrocopters should charge units that want to flee from other charging Dwarves, skirmishers within 12 inches, and any broken troops. The Steam Cannon on the Gyrocopter is tempting to use right off the bat but it needs to be resisted. Gyrocopters are too vulnerable to missile fire to expose and too important to lose. They are the only things that can really damage skirmishers, and skirmishers are then bane of the dwarves, so use these with care. If you must flame something, use both to make sure it can not fire back and destroy all your cavalry.
This should give a strong basis for battles to come for any dwarf player. These tactics have been particularly successful against Orcs and Goblins, Lizardmen, Bretonians, Skaven, Chaos Dwarves, and Chaos. Although they are untested, they should do fine against the Elves but have only an average record against Undead and Vampire counts.