Posts Tagged ‘Empire’

Pistoliers, Outriders, and You
Pistoliers, Outriders, and You avatar

Tuesday, May 8th, 2012

The Empire Pistolier/Outrider box is one of the fan favorites in the range.  It comes with loads of bits, has really characterful models, and provides a unique unit on the table for the Empire army.  With that in mind, the Pistoliers and Outriders aren’t straightforward to play, so I wanted to take this week’s article as an opportunity to go over them.


Image courtesy of GW.

Pistoliers are a fast-cavalry unit that’s meant to be on the move, all the time.  As Fast Cavalry, they can march and fire.  They get free reforms, and they even get a Vanguard move.  Their weapons confer the Quick to Fire rule, which  means you don’t suffer the penalty for moving and shooting.

This means that with a unit of 5 Pistoliers (90 points) you get 10 BS3, S4 Armor Piercing shots.  You will suffer a -1 penalty to hit for multiple shots, and will also suffer a -1 penalty for shooting at long range if the enemy is more than 6″ away.  This means you’ll be hitting on 5′s or 6′s.  Considering the free reforms and marching for Fast Cavalry, it shouldn’t be too difficult to get within 6″ of an enemy’s side arc.  This will give you 3-4 hits per turn, resulting in a decent number of casualties against cavalry and expensive, heavily-armored T3 troops (-2 to armor saves!)

Of course, the Pistoliers don’t have much staying power.  In combat, you only get the 10 attacks, including Warhorses, at a low initiative.  You’re better off fleeing and regrouping if charged.  Make sure to use your movement to stay out of the front arc of threatening units, because a single magic missile or volley of shots can really do a number on them.


Image courtesy of GW.

Outriders are a totally different story from Pistoliers, despite sharing the same models and box.  They’re Fast Cavalry, but their weapons are move-or-shoot so you won’t be using their mobility for anything but their Vanguard move.  Their Vanguard move will allow them to move up the flanks into a good shooting position, but they will be a target and every time you need to move them to protect them you’ll lose a round of shooting.

The Outriders are a bit more expensive (105 points for 5) but put out a huge volume of shots.  15 to be exact, at BS4 and 24″.  You’ll be hitting on 4′s because of multiple shots, or 5′s at long range.  Thus, you can expect 7-8 hits at short range, or 5 hits at long range.  That’s equivalent to about 15 Handgunners, which cost a bit more.  Of course, 15 Handgunners count towards your Core rather than your Special, don’t get a Vanguard move, and have a few more ablative wounds.

This brings me to the biggest problem I have with Outriders, which is survivability.  Your first casualty reduces your number of shots by 20%, and T3/5+ models aren’t exactly difficult to hurt.  Because of their Vanguard move, they’ll generally be away from your support bubble and won’t have the Leadership backup to stand up to Panics or other Leadership-based attacks either.


Pistoliers and Outriders are a very fluffy, flavorful part of the Empire army book.  I don’t think you’re really handicapping yourself by playing with them, but you have to recognize that their fragility makes them a finesse unit.  You also have to be willing to concede that there may be other elements to the army that are more points-efficient in terms of survivability and lethality.  Nonetheless, they’re an awesome unit to play with and play against, and either one is a treat to see on the table.

The State of Empire State Troops
The State of Empire State Troops avatar

Tuesday, May 1st, 2012

State Troops are meant to be the building block of the Empire army.  Like the lowly Imperial Guardsman, the Empire State Trooper presents an array of underwhelming stats.  His only saving grace is the hundreds of equally underwhelming brothers he has at his side.  So what’s the deal with State Troops in the new book?  Well, they’re still pretty underwhelming, but there’s definitely not as many of them.

State Troops pretty much picked up a 1 point increase across the board.  With the exception of Archers, on the whole they’ve gotten more expensive and don’t have much to show for it at first glance.  You get all of the cool Detachment rules, but what are you really paying for?  Rather than compare your troops to troops from 7th Edition books which are universally accepted as undercosted (Marauders, Dark Elf spearmen, etc.) it’s important to remember that 8th Edition changed a lot.  Steadfast, Step Up, and other rules are big factors, and books need to be pointed appropriately.  For every book that’s full of undercosted units, there’s likely a book filled with overpriced units.

So where does Empire fit into this?  The State Troops getting +1 point a piece stings, but it’s not backbreaking.  Halberdiers used to be head-and-shoulders above the rest of the troops options, but that’s no longer the case.  That’s not to say Halberds are bad, but you’re really not shooting yourself in the foot anymore by playing something else.  So dust off those old Empire troopers, and take a look at what they can do now!


Image courtesy of GW.

Spearmen are the cheapest, and the only State Troop which didn’t get a point increase.  A block of 20 will cost you a cool 100 points.  When you compare that to say, a Chaos Marauder, it’s probably underwhelming.  But compared to a Skeleton, you start to see what you’re getting.  The extra rank of attacks is valuable, and being cheaper means it’s easier to bring that extra rank.  A horde of these guys can get 40 S3 attacks, which makes them a pretty decent anvil if you can get a Priest buff onto them.  Of course, you only get the extra rank’s attacks if you don’t charge, which may not be an option against armies like Tomb Kings or Ogres.


Image courtesy of GW.

Halberds are still a strong favorite.  Losing the extra rank of attacks isn’t as important when you’re hitting with S4.  S4 makes it easier to wound, but it has the additional bonus of weakening armor saves.  Whereas Spears are great for standing and taking a charge, Halberds are great when you want to bring the fight to your enemy — you won’t feel that stabbing guilt of opportunity cost whenever you declare a charge.  Still, they’re 20% more expensive than the Spearmen and you have to be willing to accept that you’ll be bringing less bodies to the fight.


Image courtesy of GW.

Swordsmen took a double hit: they’re more expensive at 140 points for a block of 20, and they lost their Initiative bonus above the other State Troops.  Swordsmen still boast WS4 above the other troopers, and get a 6++ Parry Save in close combat.  Whether this is worth the cost is up to you.  Some argue that WS4/S3 is just as good as WS3/S4 against WS3/T3 armored troops: it’s just a matter of hitting on 3′s/wounding on 4′s or vice versa.  Some argue that their 5+/6++ save in combat makes them more survivable.  Others argue that WS4 is only effective against WS3 and below, whereas S4 is always valuable.  Some also argue that 5++/6++ saves are pretty easy to throw around in the new Empire book, so the extra points increase isn’t worth it.  Swordsmen may not be the most competitive, but they’re hardly useless.


With the above in mind, let’s look at some Mathhammer.  The table below details how a block of 210 points worth of troopers would perform.  This is to account for the relative cost.  Keep in mind, as combat progresses the numbers due to attrition will change.  This table assumes a horde formation for offense against varying Toughness values with no save, and a bus formation for defense against 20 attacks of varying Strength values. All attacks assume WS3 for the enemy.

Unit Wounds vs. T3 Wounds vs. T4 Wounded by S3 Wounded by S4
42 Spearmen 10 6.66 4.16 6.66
35 Halberdiers 10 (-1 save) 7.5 (-1 save) 4.16 6.66
30 Swordsmen 10 6.66 2.77 4.62

As you can see, each unit has its merits.  210 points is a relatively small unit, as you can see…a few casualties will immediately start to reduce the combat effectiveness of any of those units in a horde formation!  Nonetheless, for a big block you can make any of them work.  Spearmen can bring superior numbers to the table, and their rank bonus can give you steadfast.  Of course, you can get Steadfast/Stubborn elsewhere in the army.  Swordsmen can provide a more defensive unit by shrugging off 1/6 of incoming attacks with a Parry, although you can get the 6++ from the Luminark (or a 5++ from a Prayer).  Halberds are a middle ground of numbers, providing more offense and the same defense as Spearmen.

This table isn’t meant to argue that one troop type is better than another, but merely illustrate that they all have their uses.  This is a relatively contrived set of parameters (let me know if you play against an army that’s all WS3/T3/S3!) and Mathhammer should never be taken at face value in a vacuum.  Don’t forget Priests conferring Hatred, Hurricanum’s giving +1 to hit, and so on.  Just know that any kit for a unit of State Troops can be effective, so long as you use it properly!

The Power of Prayer
The Power of Prayer avatar

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

Last week I went over the new Detachment rules in the Empire book, and now I want to go over one of the most exciting components of that equation: the Warrior Priest.  Warrior Priests add a lot of power to a combat squad, including giving Hatred to the unit and having the ability to cast Prayers in the form of innate bound spells.  Because of the Detachment special rules, all detachments within 3″ of their parent unit gain Hatred…and the effects of the Prayers!  Let’s take a look at what Prayers are available:

Image courtesy of GW.

  • Hammer of Sigmar — Reroll failed to-wound rolls until the start of the next friendly magic phase.This is a huge deal, because if you get it off in the first round of combat you’ll be re-rolling to hit and to wound.  Keep in mind that a reroll of X is generally statistically better than a reroll of X-1.  For example, hitting on 3′s with a reroll is generally better than hitting on 2′s!  Getting this Prayer off will generally up your to-wound chance by 12 to 25 percentage points.Keep in mind that you get this bonus for 2 rounds of combat (your turn and your opponent’s).  On top of that, it is conferred to detachments, who get a free counter charge if the parent is charged.  You can have a hammer-and-anvil setup and make them both hit pretty hard.
  • Shield of Faith — Gain a 5++ save until the start of the next friendly magic phase.This cuts wounds by 1/3, plain and simple.  Keep in mind that aside from Greatswords, your troops generally have no armor (Free Company) or Light Armor (State Troops).  The Swordsmen are the most expensive option, bringing a shield which gives them a 5+/6++ save in combat.  Of course, any time you see Strength 4 (read: often) you may as well have no save.Shield of Faith is going to give you a save where you normally wouldn’t get one.  Between this and the Luminark giving out 6++ saves, there’s little reason to pay the premium for Swordsmen if you plan on including either one in your list.  This affords  you a way to give 3 units protection for a single 3+ Casting spell.
  • Soulfire — Gain Flaming Attacks until start of the next friendly magic phase.  Enemy models in base contact take a Strength 4 hit, Undead take a Strength 5 with no armor saves allowed.Soulfire is the most situational spell in the list.  It can do 3 Strength 4/5 hits, but that’s not why you cast it (unless you may be able to put wounds on a specific model in base-to-base).  Flaming attacks are primarily going to hurt Flammable targets, and stop Regeneration saves.  Regeneration is most commonly found on monsters, Trolls, and other scary things that you really shouldn’t be fighting in combat with your State Troops.  Still, if you find yourself in a sticky situation, it’s a good option to have!In a list with very few options against Etheral units, Soulfire is an option.  Those initial S4/S5 attacks are considered Magical, although the units’ subsequent Flaming attacks are not.

There you have it!  The Warrior Priest can add a bit of punch to 3 units at once, although due to their required proximity they’ll likely be focusing on the same target.  Still, you can pair a damage buff and a protection buff with 2 dice!  Now that Warrior Priests can channel power/dispel dice, you’ll be hard pressed to leave them at home.

Detachment Issues
Detachment Issues avatar

Tuesday, April 17th, 2012

Detachments are meant to be a fun, fluffy part of the Empire army.  Normal battle lines would have supporting units, so GW wanted players to have the option to emulate that with special detachment rules.  If someone charges the parent unit, a detachment can lend a hand by charging into the flank of the attackers or opening up a volley of missile fire.  Unfortunately, there were a few limiting factors in the last book that made detachments an unattractive option.  Chief among these issues was that the points spent didn’t count towards Core, a place where Empire players try not to spend more points than they have to.

The new book has addressed this issue — detachments to a unit count towards that unit’s selection slot.  So if your Spearmen take a detachment of Crossbowmen, they both count towards your Core.  If your Greatswords were to take the same detachment, they would be Special.  This isn’t really a buff, this is just the way things should work in the game.  But there are a few very exciting buffs to detachments:

Image courtesy of GW.

Conferring Rules

Starting with the new army book, parent units confer a selection of rules to their detachments, provided that the detachment is within 3 inches.  If the parent has Stubborn, Steadfast, Stupidity, Frenzy, Hatred, Immune to Psychology, or Hold the Line then the detachments get it too!  Let’s take a minute to look at these implications:

  • Stubborn – This will mostly come from Greatswords, which means you’ll be paying Special points for normal troops.  Still, it’s pretty neat to have a couple detachments of Halberdiers get Stubborn for free.  Don’t forget that you can get Stubborn in your Core troops, using Crown of Command on a character for example.
  • Steadfast – This is similar to Stubborn, but is something to think of if you have a defensive block of Spearmen, for example.  Deployed 5-wide in a bus formation, they’ll have a ton of ranks, and can thus confer a similar bonus to detachments.
  • Frenzy – This is a great way to get a bunch of free attacks.  If you get Frenzy on a parent unit, through a spell or magical item, then you can have two 10-wide detachments running in to bring an extra 20 attacks to bear!
  • Hatred – Hatred’s quite prevalent in this army book, with Warrior Priests and War Altars abound.  Having a Warrior Priest in a parent unit allows the detachments to re-roll to hit in the first round of combat, which is huge.
  • Immune to Psychology – This is a pretty obvious benefit.  Immune to Psychology means you don’t care about break tests, panic tests, fear tests, etc.  Human Leadership isn’t the best, so this can save you quite a headache.
  • Hold the Line – This is a new little gem in the new book.  Any unit with a Captain/General in it basically takes Break tests cold-blooded (roll 3d6, choose 2 lowest).  Combine this with a BSB reroll, and you won’t be going anywhere anytime soon.

You can begin to see what kind of synergies this list has.  Keep in mind that there are plenty of other sources of these buffs: spells, prayers, and of course the new entries such as the Luminark and Hurricanum!  Next week, I’ll take a look at the benefits of the Warrior Priest, and the powerful cascading effects of his prayers.

The Empire Strikes Back!
The Empire Strikes Back! avatar

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

If you haven’t been paying attention to WHFB news lately, the Empire is getting redone along with the Citadel Paint line on April 7th.  I’d been considering starting an Empire army, and now we have an idea what new toys will be available.  Let’s take a look at what’s coming out this weekend:

Imperial Griffon

Image courtesy of GW.

The new Griffon kit is massive.  You get a 50x100mm base for it, and options to make one of a three Griffons — a generic one for your Empire General, an Amber Wizard on a two-headed Griffon, or the Emperor Karl Franz and his trusty steed, Deathclaw.  The generic Griffon’s gotten beefed up to match the size of the new Imperial breed: T5, S6, and 5 wounds!  This is definitely something to look forward to.

Demigryph Knights

Image courtesy of GW.

What are they feeding those animals down at the Imperial Zoo?  In addition to the enormous Griffon above, the Empire now gets monstrous cavalry in the form of Demigryph Knights.  These guys boast a 1+ armor save and a Movement value of 8, and count as a special choice in the Empire army (Inner Circle Knights).  In addition to the beautiful models, your trusty new steeds confer a trio of S5, armour-piercing attacks, meaning -3 to Armour Saves.


Image courtesy of GW.

The Hurricanum, just like all of the carts in this release, are a love it or hate it item.  I personally love it, because it adds some whimsy to the Empire line and is a really unique kit.  The rings are rumored to be completely movable post-assembly.  The actual rules are rumored to be even better: additional power dice, +1 to hit in close combat for nearby units, and the ability to create storms.  At the very least, you know you’ll be getting a ton of cool bits with it!

Luminark of Hysh

Image courtesy of GW.

The Luminark is the other “wizardmobile” you can make out of the dual kit.  This means that you’ll be using the horse and cart base for either one, but you’ll either end up with a death ray or planetarium left over for conversion or terrain bits!  The Luminark is reportedly a more defensive unit.  It’s rumored to confer a ward save to nearby units, as well as generating extra dispel dice.  The Archimedes-style lens magnifying array on top is said to function as a bolt thrower of sorts.  It’s worth pointing out that either of these kits can be used as a mount for a Wizard, or as their own rare choice.

War Altar

Image courtesy of GW.

Finally, the War Altar has its own model!  Wait a minute, this looks really familiar.  Can you build this out of the Luminark/Hurricanum kit as well?  No, fortunately there’s no triple-kit.  That would only serve to jack up the prices and leave you with 2 sets of bits for each model you wanted to build.  Instead, GW’s got a separate box that uses the cart sprues as well as the War Altar/Volkmar sprues.  The War Altar is rumored to confer Hatred to nearby units, and boasts a 4+ Ward Save.

And more!

Of course, we can’t forget the half-dozen new characters that GW’s doing in Finecast.  If you were hoping for new Engineers, Captains, Witch Hunters, or Wizards you’re in luck!  GW’s also re-cast a fair number of old metal characters in Finecast, with corresponding price increases.  Stay tuned next week, where we try and take a look into the new Empire book!