Where the Imperial Standing Army…Stands… (Empire)   Leave a comment

Perhaps it’s a little much to consider my Empire force a “standing army.”  Maybe more of an Empire-themed haphazard scouting party?

Anyway, it’s been a while since I’ve given a proper update, and I thought that it was time to throw some thoughts around regarding my army.  I’ve been able to play a handful of games with various sizes of Empire forces over the last couple of months: two 500pt demo games against Lizardmen, showing a couple of friends how fun Warhammer can be; three Tale of Gamers games against Andrew’s Tomb Kings (500, 500 and 750); and one Tale of Gamers game against Loy’s Dark Elves (500).  In these games I’ve thrown together different lists, used different units, trying to figure out some of the things I like about the Empire.  Like Rob did recently, I’m going to go through the various units and ramble on a little about them.  As you may be able to tell by now…I am good at rambling on.

General of the Empire

A relatively cheap army general whose stats are so-so.  And that’s okay.  He’s just a Man in a world of monsters.  He’s got the Leadership of 9 that an Empire force really needs.  I’ve had him mounted and on foot, and so far his biggest impact on the games has indeed bean that Leadership boost.  Otherwise, his stats are one Wound higher than a Captain, who I would rather take points-permitting.  WhichI guess is the problem in the small games we’ve been playing: it’s hard to fit all your necessary Lords and Heroes within 125 and 187.5pt slots.  It’ll be nice to get to 1000+ points in order to field a nice array of leaders, all kitted out as they should be.  It’s not easy keeping your important peeps alive when all you can give them is heavy armour, if any at all. 

Wizard Lord

I only played a single game with a WL, and only because I couldn’t fit the points into Heroes.  I did indeed love having a Level 3 Wizard in my army.  Three spells and +3 to casting/dispelling is really helpful.  But he’s also expensive points-wise.  He’ll be another regular in the army at higher point games, but until then he sadly won’t be part of the fun.

Captain of the Empire

What I like to consider the bread-and-butter of Empire leadership.  I’ve had a Captain as either/both my General and my Battle Standard Bearer in every game.  At only 50 points and with access to a bunch of things, he’s the Man.  He’s only one Wound and one Leadership lower than the General, so in a jiffy he can take that role.  My major qualm with the Captain is that when he’s the BSB, he can’t have mundane items other than armour, so no shield.  Which doesn’t help when you want to keep him alive.  As we get to higher and higher points, I can see multiple Captains in my army, for sure.

Battle Wizard

A game of Warhammer without a Magic phase is pretty dull, in my books (I don’t know how the Dwarfs do it!).  Of course it’s not necessary, but it does add some fun to the mix.  And a Battle Wizard is, I think, among the lower point costs among the various races in the game.  Ideally you can field two Battle Wizards in a game, one or both at Level 2 being even nicer.  So far my Lore of choice has been Light.  I’d really like to have a pair of Battle Wizards representing Light and Shadow in a future game.  Moreso for the flavour than for spell choice, but I do like those two Lores.  Light has been great to me against Andrew’s Tomb Kings, of course, being Undead.  If nothing else I can choose the sig spell Shem’s Burning Gaze and have a good magic missile.  I’ve tested out other Lores in previous games with High Elves, and I will probably play around with the gamut with Empire, but I think Light will end up being my go-to Lore.  Only time will tell.

Warrior Priest

Okay, so I’ve only played one game with a Priest, removing the Wizard for him.  And all I have to say is, tough call!  This guy is awesome!  An ideal Empire army will have one Warrior Priest in each unit!  This guy gives Hatred to his unit, is not too bad in a fight, and best of all comes with Magical qualities: a bonus dispell die and built-in spells!  And when you’re playing against Tomb Kings, nothing says “Die, Undead Chariot Scum!” better than Soulfire, dealing d6 S5 hits.  I will definitely be including a Warrior Priest again in my army ASAP.  Oh, just to put him in context, I had him in my Swordsmen unit last game.  I chose there instead of my Greatswords because there were 20 of the former, and only 10 of the latter, and I figured the Greatswords might be dead before the action starts.

Swordsmen

What I consider the bread-and-butter of Empire units.  Thematically any of the State Troops will work, but I personally enjoy the look and feel of the Swordsmen more than any of the others.  Now, it’s a real toss-up between these guys and Halberdiers.  I was debating from the beginning which of these units I would start off with (and include the other later on).   The differences are: Swordsmen have WS4 I4 Shield (5+ Armour Save and Parry); the Halberdiers have S4, and are one point less.  Now, at a unit of 20 guys, the one point difference is only only 20 points.  And the other stats are only different by one.  But it can be huge.  Each characteristic has its place, but what it really comes down to is survivability vs. hitting power.  In this edition, most people are going with hitting power it seems, fielding often multiple hordes of Halberdiers.  Even when we get to really high points games, I don’t think I’ll ever have the model count to field even one horde of any type, let alone multiples.  That’s for two reasons: one is that I don’t like hordes like that.  I dig big units, but 50 models in a unit is just too big for me.  Maybe one day I’ll actually try it and like it and never go back, but I doubt it.  The other reason is cost.  It’s hard enough collecting the models to make a couple of units of State Troopers, as relatively cheap as they are.  I can’t even imagine buying up enough to make two 50-man units!  Oh, and I guess that’s similar to another reason.  I would never in a million years have the time to build and paint that many guys, in addition to all the rest I have to paint.  Just see my Tale of Lamers post, and read about my gamer ADD. 

Anyway, in the end I built my State Troopers up as Swordsmen.  I went with survivability.  That Parry save is AWESOME.  Although, twice they’ve been charged by a unit of Tomb King Chariots…and the Parry save was unavailable there.  Otherwise, though, it’s saved my skin a number of times.  However, I think I’ll play them as Halberdiers next game just to see how they do.  C’mon S4!

Handgunners

I went with Handgunners over Crossbowmen, as I have bows in other armies.  I want gunpowder!  That beings said, to use up the crossbows I got with the Handgunners, I bought extra bodies, so I’ll have 10 Crossbowmen eventually (same goes with Halberdiers, I bought bodies to go with the extra halberds I had on the sprue).  I’m not a fan of the Move or Fire rule, but I do like their S4 + AP quality.  Range of 24″ is just fine, and their BS of 3 leaves something to be desired, but I think for the most part I’ve had no problem with them.  I will continue to field them to add a Shooting element to the army,even when I can field multiple artillery pieces.  They are part of the flavour that drew me to Empire, so they will remain a component of my forces.  They are also a good bunker for a Battle Wizard, so I’m sure down the road I’ll have two units (or one Handgunner and one Crossbowmen unit), bunkering both my Battle Wizards, and protecting my rear from flank attacks and Ambushers.

Knightly Orders

I will start off saying I have not used these guys properly, most of the time, and because of this they have not performed up to my expectations.  I know that not a lot of people like cavalry in this edition (lack of Steadfast/can’t disrupt in regular-sized units), but I still have medium-to-high hopes for the Knights.  They’ve got average speed, good Strength and an Armour save to die for.  Or live for.  But you wouldn’t believe how many 1s I have rolled on a 2+ Armour save.  You wouldn’t.  I’m talking about 3 out of 5 dice coming up a 1.  I’m talking about 2 out of 3 coming up a 1.  I don’t think I’ve ever rolled so many 1s as I have when making Knightly Order Armour saves.  And that’s a fact.  Anyway, I will be using these guys again.  I’m not giving up on them.  You know what would be nice?  A unit of 8 Knights, lead by a Warrior Priest and a Captain/General.  Talk about ideal!  More Knights would be better for survivability and getting a nice big unit into combat, but they’re not cheap, points-wise.

Greatswords

I see the potential of these guys.  They have pretty good armour, they’re Stubborn, and they hit hard.  But I’ve only got the 10 of them that came with the Battalion, and that’s just not a good enough sized unit.  They get targeted early on because of their strengths, and dying early seems to be one of their weaknesses.  I would like another 10 of these guys to fill out a 20-man unit.  That will probably make this unit for me.  I’ll have to proxy them for now, maybe in the next game.  When I’ve painted everything I have right now, I think I’m just going to go and pick up another Battalion box.  That’ll add the 10 Greatswords I want, some more Knights to flush out that unit, another unit of Handgunners and a bunch more Swordsmen/Halberdiers, which I’d like.  But that will have to wait until I’ve painted what I’ve got.  That’s part of the challenge!

Mortar

Ah, the Mortar.  Another reason why I picked up Empire in the first place.  A large template is a nice way to crush a unit of enemies.  I’d say, though, that I’ve had limited success with this war machine.  Mostly because my enemies know how devestating it can be if left unchecked, so they find ways to get rid of it early.  Or else I go and Misfire, and blow myself up.  But I am definitely going to keep on using this 75-point infantry-block-killer.  Eventually I will add a Cannon to the mix, as well.  I’ll probably proxy the Cannon soon, just to see how it does.  I know Andrew, for one, quivers when he thinks of war machines in my armies, after all the hurt my Warplightning Cannons put on his Lizards in oh so many games.

Pistoliers

Last but not least, the Pistoliers.  Right from the beginning I knew I would add one of these units to my force early on.  It turned out that they were one of my first builds, too.  They have seen action in most of my games, and have been hit and miss.  Hit when I can get them into a nice, threatening position and chuck a tonne of lead at the enemy.  Miss when the enemy knows they’re annoying and have the potential for greatness behind the lines, so, like the Mortar, aim for them early on.  I am definitely keeping these guys around.

Well, those are the units I’ve used, accompanied by pictures of their current progress.  This is a good post, as it’s making me want to paintpaintpaint!  I could probably go on more about my army and the games I’ve played, but I should end here.  I will leave you with this picture, though.  It’s the Deployment and Set-up (and Vanguard) of my last game with Andrew.  I haven’t been able to finish the report I had started, and it’s already been long enough since we played that I have forgotten most details.  I’ll see if he and I can chat and try and remember enough for me to write something up.  Quickly, it was a real back and forth game. I thought I was toast early on, but came back pretty strong.  We had to call it due to time, and called a draw, but really it could have gone either way, with Andrew probably with a slight advantage.

I’m eager to play another game soon.  Rob’s Dwarfs are in my sights, but I’ll battle any of the other Tale of Gamers armies, just to get my fix.  Hopefully the Men of the Empire can stand firm and resolute against the onslaught of their varied enemies!

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Posted June 19, 2011 by mrborges in A Tale of Gamers, Empire, Warhammer Fantasy

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