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Author Topic: can someone please explain how Empire MSU works?  (Read 8390 times)

Offline csjarrat

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can someone please explain how Empire MSU works?
« on: June 01, 2012, 12:32:06 PM »
hi guys, i'm pretty intrigued by MSU, as it is a concept i see a few players doing with their HE over on the other forum i frequent, Ulthuan.net.

now their MSU tends to be made up of small units of swordmasters, WL's and dragon princes, all of which pump out large amounts of high S attacks at decent WS and are quicker than most units too.

i understand the broad concept of MSU, in that you need to deploy well, swarm the opponent with multi charges and do a ton of damage, whilst utilising magic and/or shooting to thin ranks.

i look at an empire MSU list though and have to say i scratch my head a little bit as to what actually does the damage. lots of small halberd units floating around just baffles me, against most opponents, only half will hit and then a 1/3 or 1/2 of those hits go on to wound. you'll take a few wounds back, wont have steadfast, break and flee. in this scenario i see our core as more of a liability than a benefit, as without and static CR, surely they just give away more than they create? even 5 man knight units are only gonna generate 2-3 hits, that isnt going to dint a decent unit much. our core infantry is no faster than anyone but dwarves and not really much cheaper than anyone but elves (who have better statline and rules in this set-up)

so i see DGKs as pretty good for MSU, and the stank is cool (if not a little unreliable) but we're pretty light on these units due to points.
our elites, G.swords and flaggies are nice, but very flimsy.
so empire generals, how on earth does an Empire MSU list work?
what does the damage, how do you use it and what are its issues?
thanks for your enlightening help! :-)
« Last Edit: June 01, 2012, 12:35:34 PM by csjarrat »
Compared to the state troops they are a gentle handjob on a friday evening - jaggedjimmyj in ref to knights

Offline Swan-of-War

  • Posts: 857
Re: can someone please explain how Empire MSU works?
« Reply #1 on: June 01, 2012, 12:35:43 PM »
I haven't dug into it too much, but I believe SmithF over on Warhammer.ork.uk is doing it well.
Uses Greatswords.

http://warhammer.org.uk/phpBB/viewtopic.php?f=12&t=94537
Check out my blog at Warriors of Mustache

Offline TheBelgianGuy

  • Posts: 548
Re: can someone please explain how Empire MSU works?
« Reply #2 on: June 01, 2012, 01:13:42 PM »
DO notice that the equipment he gave his captasus' don't exist anymore, and that list became 200~ points more expensive in our new book.
Also, forced clipping shenanigans isn't going to make you the most loved player at your lgs, I think.

Offline csjarrat

  • Posts: 1702
Re: can someone please explain how Empire MSU works?
« Reply #3 on: June 01, 2012, 01:23:46 PM »
yeah, his win rate aint exactly spectacular either
Compared to the state troops they are a gentle handjob on a friday evening - jaggedjimmyj in ref to knights

Offline SellSword

  • Posts: 35
Re: can someone please explain how Empire MSU works?
« Reply #4 on: June 01, 2012, 02:33:19 PM »
I've been running a MSU empire list that is based on the tactics of the elf armys.

The list is roughly.
Archlector on Alter
BSB (stuborn, mounted)
Lv 4 Light wiz
A few level 1 light wizards
A few engineers
A few helblasters
A few cannons
Tank
Fill our core with min size Knight units
and min size archers with little detachments of archers

The idea is to have the knight units punch past their main battle line by putting them on the flanks and killing the enemy's little Chaff units
Have the Archers bait and flee to keep their main blocks out of combat.
Shoot the hell out of them with Banishment and helblasters
When I run out of archers I tie up whats left with my three stubborn units (BSB with some knight, Tank, and Archlector)
Then charge them in the rear with the knights to finish them off.

The thing about MSU is some times you just need to play for small wins, but its challenging and rewarding.

Offline csjarrat

  • Posts: 1702
Re: can someone please explain how Empire MSU works?
« Reply #5 on: June 01, 2012, 02:59:33 PM »
I've been running a MSU empire list that is based on the tactics of the elf armys.

The list is roughly.
Archlector on Alter
BSB (stuborn, mounted)
Lv 4 Light wiz
A few level 1 light wizards
A few engineers
A few helblasters
A few cannons
Tank
Fill our core with min size Knight units
and min size archers with little detachments of archers

The idea is to have the knight units punch past their main battle line by putting them on the flanks and killing the enemy's little Chaff units
Have the Archers bait and flee to keep their main blocks out of combat.
Shoot the hell out of them with Banishment and helblasters
When I run out of archers I tie up whats left with my three stubborn units (BSB with some knight, Tank, and Archlector)
Then charge them in the rear with the knights to finish them off.

The thing about MSU is some times you just need to play for small wins, but its challenging and rewarding.

interesting. does it work?
what kind of things do you struggle against?
how do you deal with castle armies like dwarves?
cheers!
Compared to the state troops they are a gentle handjob on a friday evening - jaggedjimmyj in ref to knights

Offline SellSword

  • Posts: 35
Re: can someone please explain how Empire MSU works?
« Reply #6 on: June 01, 2012, 08:40:55 PM »
I lost a lot of games before I figured out what to play and how to play it. It works really well, but its not easy to play and its not the same kind of MSU list people are used to.

Lore of light is key. It's great for fighting artillery, great for offense and defense.

Really big hordes are a problem because its hard to finish them off. You usually end up with draws or minor wins. Castle armys are not so bad because I tend to just out shoot them. Again lore of light is great. The worst match up is leadership bombs. The way I play is lots of fleeing, rallying, and stubborn checks. When my archers can't rally and start causing panic checks I get destroyed.

Re: can someone please explain how Empire MSU works?
« Reply #7 on: June 02, 2012, 01:39:12 PM »
Feeling a tad stupid, but what does MSU stand for exactly?  :icon_redface:

Offline rhavien

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Re: can someone please explain how Empire MSU works?
« Reply #8 on: June 02, 2012, 01:45:45 PM »
Many small units

Offline Folken

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Re: can someone please explain how Empire MSU works?
« Reply #9 on: June 02, 2012, 03:55:11 PM »
Feeling a tad stupid, but what does MSU stand for exactly?  :icon_redface:
Its ok, its not in our FAQ's list of abbreviations. That thread probably needs to be unstickied and replaced.

Offline Qrab

  • Posts: 594
Re: can someone please explain how Empire MSU works?
« Reply #10 on: June 03, 2012, 04:12:17 PM »
I'm not convinced that it's possible to do an MSU infantry army with the new book. Would be happy to be proven wrong. However, a lot of the things that made it work with 7th edition book are no longer available in the 8th edition book.

Offline Eighty

  • Posts: 1038
Re: can someone please explain how Empire MSU works?
« Reply #11 on: June 03, 2012, 04:28:22 PM »
I'm not convinced that it's possible to do an MSU infantry army with the new book. Would be happy to be proven wrong. However, a lot of the things that made it work with 7th edition book are no longer available in the 8th edition book.

i do not think we have the strength or ability to pull this off as successfully as the other armies.

Could it be done with hardwork and lots of luck? yes, but it would be an uphill battle all the way.

as you said, HE relies on outputting lots of reliable wounds, whereas we dont really do that in our combat phase (at least not with the size of units we are talking about in this thread)

Trumpets sound around me, the wind blowing through my hair, as fellow gamers look in awe at my Army, secretly wishing they chose empire instead of their stupid rats

Offline Noght

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Re: can someone please explain how Empire MSU works?
« Reply #12 on: June 03, 2012, 04:33:21 PM »
I'm not convinced that it's possible to do an MSU infantry army with the new book. Would be happy to be proven wrong. However, a lot of the things that made it work with 7th edition book are no longer available in the 8th edition book.

This might be the case. 
Our WP buffage clearly benefits bigger units. 
Flags LD changes and martyr rule make them unsuitable. 
War Altar being Stubborn rather than Unbreakable is an issue.

Overall cost increase is an issue, my 2200 MSU Adepticon list checks in at 2554, about a 16% increase in "price".  That's like 50 Halberdiers, 25 more GS/Flagellants, or a couple of Kick A$$ characters.  That's a significant increase methinks.

Noght
"...the most incorrigible vice being that of an ignorance which fancies it knows everything..."  Camus.

Offline Calisson

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Re: can someone please explain how Empire MSU works?
« Reply #13 on: June 03, 2012, 07:40:51 PM »
As already said, MSU relies on multiple effective units.
We can have many units, but they are either not naturally effective, or they are expensive.
Can we try to adapt the principles of MSU to the Empire?


1. Some principles of MSU:
Units must be cheap, in order to get many of them and to be able to sacrifice any without being forced to change plans.
They must be able to deal damage, as we rely on combined charges to get the upper hand in melee, and eat alive mammoth units we're facing.


2. Empire's Small Melee Units.
Cheap small melee units, which require buffing:
- Haberds (S4), Swordsmen (WS4), Free Companies (2 attacks). These units can come in small numbers: 10 per unit, with detachments of 5.
- Knights in units of 5 vanilla (+ muso): more expensive, but 2 attacks, one can be made S6/4.

More expensive small melee units, which can work on their own:
- Reiksguard knights: in small units.
- Demigriphs.
- Steam Tank.
- Captasus optimized for melee.
- TGM.

Melee units subpar for MSU:
- Spearmen because they are bad charging in a single rank.
- IC Knights: there's only 1 of that kind.
- Greatswords: striking last in a small unit is suicidal.
- Flagellants: they would be excellent for MSU, if they did not sacrifice themselves each turn.

In addition, some agile units would help a lot the MSU maneuvre, despite not taking part in melees:
- Archers: not for engaging in melee, but as a very small sacrificial unit designed to canalize the opponent.
- Pistoliers: rather expensive, but they can fit into the spirit, like Archers.


3. How to make many small units effective?
This is the tricky part.
We want to buff many units, not a single one. So War Priests are not sufficient.
Fortunately, there are area buffs:
- Hurricanum: Buffs all units within 6", and their detachments.
- War Altar: buffs all units within 6", and their detachments.
- Most Light Lore spells work on all units within 12", not including detachments. Let's consider 3 Lvl 2, in order to get all the spells and not rely on any single wizard.
The other Lores don't propose enough large area buffs to be taken reliably. Spells affecting only 1 unit are not fit for MSU.


4. Designing an MSU army.
Having reviewed all the above, we can conclude at this point that, even if Empire is not naturally fit for MSU, there are two ways to approach that:
- Elite small units on their own (Reiksguard, Demigriphs, Steam Tank, Captasus, TGM).
- Crappy small units (Haberds, Swordsmen, Free Companies, their detachments, and Knights) with buffs (Hurricanum, War Altar, Light Lore).

If the size of the game is large enough, a central part of the army could be designed around Hurricanum+WA+Light wizards, buffing infantry and their detachments,
and the wings would be taken by small units of elite/rare/hero/lord cavalry.


5. Redundancy.
One principle is that no single unit must be imperatively relied upon.
How does this apply to buffing units?
This is a reason why we consider 3 Lvl2 rather than 1 Lvl4. Sure, there is still a single caster for each spell, but losing a wizard is not the end of the battle.
Hurricanum and WA are not limited to 1. Taking 2 of each in larger games could be considered.
In smaller games, you can consider that Hurricanum is redundant with WA, Demigriphs with Stank and so on.


6. Controlling the opponent.
That's one of the principle of MSU: we're not charging head-on blindly, but we delay the combats we want not and engage simultaneously the combats we want.
The trouble is that the core of the army, infantry around the two buff wagons, is far from mobile.
This is why we need faster troops to control the enemy as we can, such as Pistoliers and Archers.
This is also an area where Flagellants have a role to play: when they enter a melee, they remain till the last one dies. That might be enough a speed bump.


7. From theory to practice.
I only analysed.
Someone has to try on the field.
That's not me, I'm afraid, but I'll be pleased to read the reports.


Have a good MSU game!

Offline Noght

  • Posts: 3184
Re: can someone please explain how Empire MSU works?
« Reply #14 on: June 03, 2012, 10:23:09 PM »
I am toying with the idea of using 3 units of 5 Pistoliers as "bait" in a modified MSU format (yes I own 15 Pistoliers).  Not sure yet, stay tuned.

Noght
"...the most incorrigible vice being that of an ignorance which fancies it knows everything..."  Camus.

Offline wardancer

  • Posts: 137
Re: can someone please explain how Empire MSU works?
« Reply #15 on: June 03, 2012, 10:26:46 PM »
once i get bored with my msu demons, I am embarking on msu empire project so you will be hearing back from me :)

Offline Zak

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Re: can someone please explain how Empire MSU works?
« Reply #16 on: June 04, 2012, 12:18:39 AM »
Feeling a tad stupid, but what does MSU stand for exactly?  :icon_redface:
hahah thatís what I was thinking ..The only thing I came up with is Michigan state university!!!
This is how Liberty dies, by the sound of thundering applause.

Offline Lord Solar Plexus

  • Posts: 3212
Re: can someone please explain how Empire MSU works?
« Reply #17 on: June 04, 2012, 07:21:02 AM »
i understand the broad concept of MSU, in that you need to deploy well, swarm the opponent with multi charges and do a ton of damage, whilst utilising magic and/or shooting to thin ranks.

I'm not pretending to be some kind of authority but to me that does not look like the concept for MSU. That's the concept for a WH Fantasy battle: Everyone needs to deploy well. A horde being too far away or too close to a hard counter has a big problem. Doing a ton of damage is the sole point of many hordes, and I gather magic and shooting are used for those purposes as well. Multicharges are an exception to some degree but some hordes are much better off to combo charge, too.

Some points because everyone's working with his own definition:

- Many small units means just that, many of them. If I have 4 detachments, 2 WM, a Captasus, 2*5 Pistoliers, 2*5 Reiksguard and 3 DGK, that's many in my eyes.

- Many small units: Small doesn't mean one model, or even 5 models. 30 Halberdiers I consider a small unit, or a detachment of 20. Or 25-30 Greatswords. With 2*15 Swordsmen, that's already 3 small units right there, and they can win fights.

- Many small units: Units are not limited to close combat units. WM, chariots, archers, Pistoliers, you name it.

The trick with MSU is to set up baits and a few decent countercharges. Getting a flank charge off is a whole different ballgame even against elites. 3-6 attacks to the side, much more CR, and quite possibly disruption can turn a massacre into a near autowin.

Archers are instrumental in setting up baits although it's possible to use Pistoliers or small spearmen teams. We can also make an army of with many stubborn and unbreakable elements. Tarpits abound, such as STanks or Reichsguard or Swordsmen detachments. DGK are the hard hitters, 30 Halbs or some such can provide ranks. 
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Offline wardancer

  • Posts: 137
Re: can someone please explain how Empire MSU works?
« Reply #18 on: June 04, 2012, 11:22:57 AM »
I can add that outriders work really well for MSU army types. You really rely heavily on setting combo-charges or jumping on flanks etc. so chaff is your big enemy. Outriders are really good at dealing with that problem :)

Offline Steerpike

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Re: can someone please explain how Empire MSU works?
« Reply #19 on: June 04, 2012, 05:41:54 PM »

4. Designing an MSU army.
Having reviewed all the above, we can conclude at this point that, even if Empire is not naturally fit for MSU, there are two ways to approach that:
- Elite small units on their own (Reiksguard, Demigriphs, Steam Tank, Captasus, TGM).
- Crappy small units (Haberds, Swordsmen, Free Companies, their detachments, and Knights) with buffs (Hurricanum, War Altar, Light Lore).


I'd say the first option is best. Those elite units pack a decent punch and they still absorb most damage with their armor, meaning they are very likely to win combat against average units. Those are also fast units, allowing you to better pick your fights. Their main drawback is they have few wounds. Add in some archers/pistoliers for better control of movement, and I'd also add a not-so-small spearmen/swordsmen regiment in order to break steadfast (and fill the core points).


- Most Light Lore spells work on all units within 12", not including detachments. Let's consider 3 Lvl 2, in order to get all the spells and not rely on any single wizard.
The other Lores don't propose enough large area buffs to be taken reliably. Spells affecting only 1 unit are not fit for MSU.


I believe area buffs are not really necessary. If you outnumber your opponent and concentrate on a single combat, a single hex on the opposing unit should be enough. I'd suggest Lore of Heavens for a cavalry centered MSU list.

Offline Calisson

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Re: can someone please explain how Empire MSU works?
« Reply #20 on: June 05, 2012, 07:17:18 AM »
@ Steerpike
Agree with you.
The cavalry lists often seen lately abide indeed by the principles of MSU, except for the large unit of IC knight generally found to shelter TGM and BSB.


Let's see what could make an MSU cavalry list.
Command groups:
- Musicians (necessary for mobility).
- Champions are useful (cheap compared to the cost of a model, can absorb the attacks from an opposing hero), except S3 knights.
- Standards are useful (one of them will be the Standard of Steel, providing +1.5" average charging range - let the opponent bet which unit has it - flaming standard for another unit), except knights which cannot take a magic standard.

Core:  5 IC knights; 6 units of 5 Vanilla knights, half of them with GW (for diversity). (~850 pts)
Special: 3 units of 3 DG, 3 units of 5 pistoliers (to take advantage of the fast cavalry rule) (~900 pts).
Rare: 2 Stanks (500 pts).
Heroes: Pegasus BSB, 3 x Lvl2 Heavens, mounted (~500 pts).
Lord: TGM with runefang. (~250 pts).
Total: 20 units at 3k, including 13 fighting units.

Note: the pegasus BSB is not a fighter, he is more adding redundancy to TGM for Ld, remaining out of melees, and adding redundancy to pistoliers as warmachine hunter & scavenger (hunting down the lone survivor of a defeated unit, to get the VPs).


That's to be compared to an MSU infantry list:
Command groups:
- Champions are too expensive.
- Pennant are useful (1 or 2 per anticipated combined melee).
- Muso still useful.

Core: 4 or 5 squads of {11 Halberds/Swordsmen + 2x6 FC/Archers} (600 ~ 750 pts).
Special: 3 units of 10 Flagellants (~400 pts).
Rare: 2 or 3 x Hurricanum (~400 pts).
Heroes: 3 x Lvl2 Light (300 ~ 400 pts).
Lord: 1 or 2 x War Altar (500 ~ 600 pts).
Total: 26 units at 2500 pts, half of them not designed to fight.
No BSB (one of his kind), the list will be vulnerable for Ld. It must win combats.


With these draft lists, the potentialities of these two extreme MSU armies should be easier to understand.
The all-cavalry list costs more, drifting towards 3k. Many units are effectively dangerous and all are mobile, and have rather strong inherent Ld.
The all-infantry list costs less and has more bodies. Half of the units are there to canalize or buff. The army has a low maneuvrability and limited Ld.
A combination of the above can be considered, using infantry for core, cavalry for special, a mix for rare, heroes & lords.

Again, that's only analysis, I've not tried them on the battlefield.

Offline Lord Solar Plexus

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Re: can someone please explain how Empire MSU works?
« Reply #21 on: June 05, 2012, 08:52:50 AM »
I'm afraid units of 11 State Troops are not MSU, they're rather RFD*. 5 vanilla knights cost 110 points, there's no reason an infantry unit couldn't cost that.

The definition must by its very nature scale depending on the unit in question, and it's different for different armies, too. MSU Skaven will necessarily look very different than MSU Ogres.




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Offline rothgar13

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Re: can someone please explain how Empire MSU works?
« Reply #22 on: June 05, 2012, 02:06:48 PM »
To follow that tangent, not a whole lot of people are running Ogres in true MSU anymore. MMU seems to be the way to go these days, assuming you're not piling all the boys up into a Guthorde. OK, back on topic.

Lord Solar Plexus makes a fantastic point, and that is that MSU isn't as much about unit sizes as it is about unit costs (which of course is correlated to unit sizes, which is why it sometimes gets confusing). The issue here is that you don't want to put too many eggs into any one basket, not that you want to run very low model count units for some reason that defies comprehension - Empire troops are meant to win combat by a combination of buffing, numbers, and tactics. Rare indeed is the foe you can handle straight-up. I'd say a unit of 20 Halberdiers with full command is still pretty MSU, as it clocks in at just 150 points.
« Last Edit: June 05, 2012, 02:11:39 PM by rothgar13 »

Offline Khaas

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Re: can someone please explain how Empire MSU works?
« Reply #23 on: June 05, 2012, 08:58:02 PM »
Roth has it right, I play a WOC MSU list myself as my primary army, the primary point of an MSU list is to field more units than you're expected to have. That typically means smaller units that hit hard. For example, instead of running a Marauder Horde in my WOC list I run 2 units of 24 each, 1 unit with GW, and the other with Flails. The GW unit is typically used to flank, that said for an MSU list Deployment and Movement are absolutely critical.

In Deployment, you have an advantage in that you have more units to deploy. This typically means that you will reach a point where your opponent is out of units to deploy and you're left with your best ball breakers to deploy wherever you see fit. In movement, you have to be comfortable with setting up charges, redirecting, etc. Those things apply in your regular all comers armies too, but if you mess up the movement phase it can kill you with an MSU army. That's not necessarily the case with other types of lists.

Another point to consider is your formations, I've been going six wide and it pays off. It's an extra guy swinging when you do make contact with the enemy and that can be the difference between winning and losing combat. Always remember though, with MSU you've got to stay mobile and adapt. Don't be afraid to sacrifice a unit to give a combat time to resolve itself, and when you see a vulnerable target pounce on it with all you've got, because your smaller units just can't stand up to prolonged engagements (generally).

Offline Noght

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Re: can someone please explain how Empire MSU works?
« Reply #24 on: June 06, 2012, 11:12:24 AM »
.

Core: 4 or 5 squads of {11 Halberds/Swordsmen + 2x6 FC/Archers} (600 ~ 750 pts).
Special: 3 units of 10 Flagellants (~400 pts).
Rare: 2 or 3 x Hurricanum (~400 pts).
Heroes: 3 x Lvl2 Light (300 ~ 400 pts).
Lord: 1 or 2 x War Altar (500 ~ 600 pts).
Total: 26 units at 2500 pts, half of them not designed to fight.
No BSB (one of his kind), the list will be vulnerable for Ld. It must win combats.


The pull quote is "It must win combats".  Outside of the Flagellants (too small btw) there is nothing in the list that "wins" combats.  The new Martyr rule means the Flags lose eventrually (I shudder to think what happens when they run into a Horde of anything cheap).  Beside the LD 7 Frenzy makes them nearly ineffective.

You are almost forced to a mix of cav/infantry.  You also need one "Bus" to bring CR to break steadfast.  The new book makes it kind of a dilemma.

Noght
"...the most incorrigible vice being that of an ignorance which fancies it knows everything..."  Camus.