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Author Topic: Would this kind of battleline work? [T9A]  (Read 1604 times)

Offline Konrad von Richtmark

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Would this kind of battleline work? [T9A]
« on: January 30, 2017, 07:42:16 PM »
It's theoryhammertime!

As those who noticed my returning post, I have no actual experience of either T9A or 8e, I've just followed them at a distance. Now, though, I'm as interested in getting back into the action as I'm uninterested in what (in my limited perception) seems to be the usual Empire paradigm of halberd hordes, demigryph knights and buff wagons. No, I want detachment tactic goodness. After some head-scratching, I came up with the following idea for a "core" battleline, for a T9A army which isn't quite shooty enough to be a real gunline, but shooty enough to be able to play defensively and force enemies to assault my line. I'd like feedback and see if I could interest someone in discussion, if not else then to find out where I've gone wrong for having no practical experience. I'd rather get trashed here than on the gaming table.

So, here is:

30 Swordsmen [Heavy infantry], Full Command: 320 pts
30 Swordsmen [Heavy infantry], Full Command: 320 pts
30 Spearmen [Heavy infantry], Full Command, Spears: 350 pts
15 Handgunners [Light infantry], Handguns, Standard: 230 pts
15 Handgunners [Light infantry], Handguns, Standard: 230 pts
15 Handgunners [Light infantry], Handguns, Standard: 230 pts
15 Handgunners [Light infantry], Handguns, Standard: 230 pts
Total of 1910 pts

The idea is to deploy everything in a line, each unit five models wide, as follows:

H S H S H S H

with H being handgunners and S being Spearmen/Swordsmen. This way, each heavy infantry block can draw on two handgun blocks for supporting actions, and the handgunners get to use the depth of the heavy infantry for steadfast. The handgunners are 15 strong and outfitted with standards primarily to make them able to act as flankers on supporting charges, to be able to lose a few guys and still provide rank bonuses and the ability to disrupt steadfast. Being handgunners rather than militia, they serve to force the enemy to assault the line, to shoot at the enemy while approaching, and join the fray when close combat happens.

I just provided the basic core of the line here to keep things simple. In real battle, the line would likely be supported by a general and/or a BSB, to stiffen the line locally if needed. Those orders would also come in handy for extending handgun range just enough to be able to shoot into the enemy deployment zone if necessary.

I'm thinking that if the enemy would attack such a line on a narrow front with hard-hitting units, I'd outnumber the enemy unit-wise and be able to eventually (or rather quickly, even) outflank the enemy. If they'd rather go for a wide-front assault with a larger number of cheaper units, I'd instead use my firepower while the enemy advances towards me to create a suitable shot-up weakness in the enemy line to exploit and break through, then start the outflanking from there.
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Offline Zygmund

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Re: Would this kind of battleline work? [T9A]
« Reply #1 on: January 30, 2017, 08:41:44 PM »
This is a brief comment only.

No, it likely wouldn't work in a competitive game. Empire core is too fragile to stand up to the more killy units in most armies these days. At 30 strong, those parent units would melt away & rout fast. Handgunners are esteemed very low efficient for their point cost, so likely cannot pepper the enemy enough to alter the end result.

Your opponent will chew in with a combo charge on one flank, and then eat the army piecemeal.

In the current T9A meta, you need more combined arms, and better point concentration in killy units.

But boy everyone in the EoS camp would love that kind of basic idea to work! And if you mainly play friendly games, I surely hope you can find the fun in this kind of fluffy list!  :-)

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Offline Konrad von Richtmark

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Re: Would this kind of battleline work? [T9A]
« Reply #2 on: January 30, 2017, 09:23:52 PM »
What kind of killy unit would that be? My inexperience is probably showing, but I'd think that against a unit that's just killy, it'd still take a few combat rounds to chew down the majority of those 30 models to the point where it's no longer steadfast. Whereas if a unit is both killy and has enough ranks to negate steadfast after less kills, it's a big elite unit, which would make it a prime target for gunnery (which beyond the handgunners also means maxed out artillery, and wizard support). This is just the basic concept I'm presenting here, of course there'd be a whole wider context for it. What exactly do you mean with "more combined arms"?
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Offline Naitsabes

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Re: Would this kind of battleline work? [T9A]
« Reply #3 on: January 30, 2017, 10:02:40 PM »
What exactly do you mean with "more combined arms"?

those demigryph knights and buff wagons  :icon_wink:

Something to consider is that with 8th edition (and unchanged in T9A) units charge much farther. Hence your opponents will not slug at you under that not-so withering handgunner fire as much as in the olden days. If you don't harass/redirect faster things can start hitting your line on turn 2, the infantry blocks joins in on turn 3.

In terms of how fast do baddies chew through your swordmen, well, that's what theoryhammer is all about. Run some numbers with witch elves, maybe some of the high elf elites. I would like to know! I suspect it won't be pretty.

(and in the interest of full disclosure, I've played maybe four games with an now-outdated version of T9A)

Good to read something about tactics and gameplay on here.  :eusa_clap:
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Offline Konrad von Richtmark

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Re: Would this kind of battleline work? [T9A]
« Reply #4 on: January 30, 2017, 10:57:57 PM »
I'll make do without the chicken knights if I can. You will have to excuse my bigotry, those things are just so representative of everything that was wrong about 8e.

Witch elves vs swordsmen, let's see. Let's be generous and give them a 7 wide anti-bus formation. That's 29 attacks including the champ and the supporting attacks. 19.333 average hits, of which 4.8333 auto-wound from poison and 7.25 more succeed, for a total of 12.0833 wounds before saves. A third get stuck in armour, resulting in a final 8.05333 kills. If they can keep up that pace, the unit would be down to about 16 models after two rounds, the minimum needed to feasibly break it. Three and it'd be done for almost for certain. For reference, the swordsmen would kill an average of 2.75 witches per turn.

So if a lone swordsman unit received that charge, I'd pretty much have to have a relief flank charge lined up for next turn. Also, that's what those handgunner detachments are there for, they can do that too. Maybe witches are a bad example for that though, as they'd get a bunch more attacks to do, against unarmoured handgunners at that.

But no, the idea would definitely not be to just stand there in line and soak up punishment. After the enemy makes contact (or, preferably, right before, in anticipation of what's going to happen), the unengaged parts of the line would wrap inward and outflank. Which might be especially doable against fast enemies that outrun their own infantry support in a headlong charge to get stuck in on turn 2.

Yeah, doing this would require a very solid understanding of what such a line is capable of holding against and for how long.
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Offline The Peacemaker

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Re: Would this kind of battleline work? [T9A]
« Reply #5 on: January 31, 2017, 07:41:57 AM »
Remember that this is not a historicals game. Many strategies are similar but you need buffs that force multiply. You need heavy hitters.
That's what the general with the orders are for, the warrior with its hatred and prayer buffs.
Knights or ImperialGuard(greatswords) for some heavy hitting. (Or chicken knights).

If you already got the models I'd suggest just start playing. As long as your opponent isn't super experienced you should have fun.
Heck, a big chunk of fun with a new game is NOT reading up on the best strategies and just trying to figure out for yourself.
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Offline Zygmund

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Re: Would this kind of battleline work? [T9A]
« Reply #6 on: January 31, 2017, 08:30:20 AM »
Listen to what Peacemaker says!  :-)

If you like to ponder tactics, maybe read some other army books and try to come up with good lists for them. Not just single comparisons of unit vs. unit, but real army lists that play to their strengths. Then you get some sort of an idea what your Empire army could be facing, and how the opponent might look at your troops.

Many armies have fast and killy (although maybe glass cannon) troops that will not give you the time and space to use your battleline, or adjust it to respond to emerging enemy threats.

Nearly every army will deploy chaff units, and these will frustrate your attempts to bring several units to a combo charge.

Common way to destroy the Empire parent-detachment line is to charge the weak supporting units with small and fast units (hounds, wolves, there are many out there). When your parent unit has its detachments threatened, will you turn to face one of these combats with your parent unit, and leave your flank/rear open? Likely not. Likely your parent unit will fight the enemy big unit alone, without any support.


And I just love it when you say that the demigriffin represent what went wrong with the 8th ed. Totally agree. The preponderance of monstrous infantry and cavalry (and buff wagons and flying monsters; and supporting attacks and horde) changed the game in the 8th. For the worse, I think. I'd like to see it take half a step back. Maybe the Warhammer Armies project, with some kind of hybrid 7th/8th ed design principles, would actually be the fun edition for me...

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Offline The Black Knight

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Re: Would this kind of battleline work? [T9A]
« Reply #7 on: January 31, 2017, 11:57:11 AM »
As a person who despises buff-wagons and demigriffs, I would love to see this concept work.

Unfortunately I think that the guys are right - this army wouldn't achieve much and it'd get butchered. 

I post rarely but I remember the good old days of 6th, the Richtmark Battalion and the TVI-style of gameplay. The problem is, since then the 'killyness' of many units in warhammer has got turned up to 11, while their survivability is roughly the same as it was. This has to do with the 'step up' rule, many buffs that units now have like eternal hatred or predatory instincts and the augment spells. There is also a lot more S5-7 going around. That's why you see units of 50 halabardiers, they just literally die in droves. I had a game a couple of weeks ago against wood elves, where a halabardier horde didn't even reach combat, it just got mauled to death through missles and magic. That was not very likely to happen in 6-7th ed with a unit of that size.

So static res is not a reliable way of winning fights, you actually need units to do the heavy lifting. Greatswords are good at this but you need 30+ of them (some would say don't leave without a 40 strong unit). Flagellants are also pretty good (not sure how are they in 1.3). I don't think that buff-wagons are required, but imperial infantry needs something to support them, be it prayers, hatred or magic...
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Offline Konrad von Richtmark

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Re: Would this kind of battleline work? [T9A]
« Reply #8 on: January 31, 2017, 01:24:35 PM »
Might the concept work if one of the heavy infantry blocks instead was Imperial Guard, either of the shield or greatsword variant? The shielded variant might give significant extra staying power, and if either the general or BSB (I'd use both with this battleline) is in there, it doesn't need steadfast to be stubborn.
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Offline Zygmund

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Re: Would this kind of battleline work? [T9A]
« Reply #9 on: January 31, 2017, 06:28:54 PM »
Obviously it would work better with IG.

I'm toying with even more infantry heavy than I'm normally using: IG and two Hvy Infantry parents with supporting units. Sadly, I don't have the time to try things out. Can't say how it would work.

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Offline The Peacemaker

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Re: Would this kind of battleline work? [T9A]
« Reply #10 on: January 31, 2017, 11:51:52 PM »
Might the concept work if one of the heavy infantry blocks instead was Imperial Guard, either of the shield or greatsword variant? The shielded variant might give significant extra staying power, and if either the general or BSB (I'd use both with this battleline) is in there, it doesn't need steadfast to be stubborn.

The nice thing about T9A is that everything is balanced point wise so everything kinda works. Its not like 8th where if someone took a min/max list and the other guy did not you just get destroyed.

It depends on what your opponent brings and how experienced they are. Either way, should be fun.
But yes, an imperial guard unit would help.

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Offline The Black Knight

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Re: Would this kind of battleline work? [T9A]
« Reply #11 on: February 01, 2017, 06:15:06 PM »
It's deffinietly worth a try. Maybe even two imperial guard units? Although then you end up with a pretty elite army.
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Offline Konrad von Richtmark

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Re: Would this kind of battleline work? [T9A]
« Reply #12 on: February 01, 2017, 09:16:05 PM »
Yeah, well, this is really more about the concept of 4 handgunner detachments and 3 melee units in an alternating line. Those melee units may be whatever is sensible under the current metagame, as long as they are something that is eligible to be a parent unit. I've usually held to the notion that the purpose of gunnery is not to do the bulk of the killing, but to force the enemy to assault your position rather than you having to come to him, and to use preparatory gunnery to fine-tune the upcoming clash. That's the point of having detachments that have both firepower and the ability to do supporting charges. When I read through the latest edition of the T9A rules and found out that standards don't give the enemy capture VP and that every standard counts for CR, I had the feeling that the time of the close-combat-capable handgunner detachment has come at last. Though, that might just be my Thirty Years War fandom talking.
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Offline Konrad von Richtmark

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Re: Would this kind of battleline work? [T9A]
« Reply #13 on: February 01, 2017, 09:18:25 PM »
I will have to do some mathhammer though on whether IG really offers more staying power point for point than core infantry. Core infantry can simply be used for much deeper steadfast buses.
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Offline The Peacemaker

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Re: Would this kind of battleline work? [T9A]
« Reply #14 on: February 02, 2017, 03:01:04 AM »
When I read through the latest edition of the T9A rules and found out that standards don't give the enemy capture VP and that every standard counts for CR, I had the feeling that the time of the close-combat-capable handgunner detachment has come at last. Though, that might just be my Thirty Years War fandom talking.

Just wait for 2.0 when flank and rear attacks get +1 attack!
....not much cause its only the front line but it gives it that little extra punch that makes you want to send handgunners into the flank.
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Offline Konrad von Richtmark

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Re: Would this kind of battleline work? [T9A]
« Reply #15 on: March 20, 2017, 09:44:26 PM »
Just had another game with this battleline, though it was just a 2500 pt game, so two units of 30 swordsmen with a marshal each for general and BSB, and three handgunner support units.

It worked decently, though for reasons of matchup, the game isn't necessarily very representative of what I'd face in a competitive scene. One lesson I learned for the benefit of future games is that the units in the line should be spaced apart way more than the mandatory 1''. A too tight line won't be able to swing around and practice active defence without violating the 1'' rule.
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Offline Konrad von Richtmark

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Re: Would this kind of battleline work? [T9A]
« Reply #16 on: April 30, 2017, 09:48:23 AM »
I thought that, since I'm determined for now to make this work, to keep a little log of games played, with conclusions. Thought it might be interesting for people here, since several would *want* this concept to work.

GAME 1. HIGHBORN ELVES #1

First game was described in my first T9A battle report, so I won't repeat other than the conclusions. The line worked decently, I was able to get off significant amounts of gunnery as well as close combat supporting charges. I'd say I largely won the maneuver game on this one. The game inevitably centered on his Ancient Dragon, which I brought down in close combat rather than by shooting, so maybe not that representive a game overall. Game ended in a 16-4 win.
« Last Edit: April 30, 2017, 09:58:52 AM by Konrad von Richtmark »
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Offline Konrad von Richtmark

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Re: Would this kind of battleline work? [T9A]
« Reply #17 on: April 30, 2017, 10:05:37 AM »
GAME 2. DWARFS #1

This was just a 2500 pts game against a newbie, which meant a kitchen sink list with way too many expensive upgrades. His small, elite close combat units were significantly worn down by shooting on their way to my line (which was, due to the game size, just 2 swordsmen and 3 handgunner units). What did get through did, however, last for awfully long against my infantry. That had, though, something to do with 3 of his 5 close combat units being either unbreakable or bodyguards. Elsewhere on the board, my knights swept through a lone small warrior unit and assailed his gunners. Dwarfs surrendered, shamefur dispray, commit sudoku.

I did, though, learn one lesson. If the battleline is too tightly packed, lone units won't be able to maneuver much without bumping into others. I suspect the optimal battleline might be slightly crescent-shaped, allowing for space between the units while still keeping them in position to countercharge.
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Offline Konrad von Richtmark

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Re: Would this kind of battleline work? [T9A]
« Reply #18 on: April 30, 2017, 10:44:45 AM »
GAME 3. WARRIORS OF THE DARK GODS #1

The first defeat with this list, 19-1 at that, but one from which important lessons can be drawn. Opposing list had its striking power concentrated into 3 solo-going mounted characters, an elder dragon centaur and a unit of 4 crushers. The rest was mostly a cheap core of barbarians and hounds. This game was played with diagonal deployment, something I didn't realize the full implications of until afterward. He loaded up on my right flank while I had already dropped one handgunner unit on my left. The diagonal deployment shortened the effective length of the battleline I could drop, so (like I did in game #1) I should just have dropped everything fairly quickly in order to get an extra round of shooting. Instead, I waited to be able to properly position my heavy infantry, something that ended up not counting for as much as I'd hoped. My gunnery managed to bag the shaggoth and two of the crushers. The remaining two crushers made it into close combat with my swordsmen with my BSB, and with handgunners in flanking counter-charge. His hounds ran around chaffing my infantry, but also got in the way of his characters getting stuck in. He managed, mostly through luck, to shut down both of my cannons thanks to two fallen beasts arriving through ambush on his turn 2, and me failing to shoot even one, despite having held back firepower for the purpose.

Long story short, I lost the game mostly due to my left flank being wholly out of position to do much, and a couple stupid situational mistakes. What I should have done is to have dropped the whole army early enough to secure the first turn, to get an extra round of shooting to compensate for the deployment zones just being 18'' apart. If I'd done that, he could have chosen which flank to load heavily, but it wouldn't have made much of a difference for what would be facing him. Even if only half my infantry gets to shoot the first turn, that's still half a turn worth of shooting, and the rest of the infantry would have used that free turn to swing around to enfilade his units doing a refused flank attack.

My overall feeling, having considered the game, is that the problem was not the list and the concept, but the player playing it. I lost the game in the deployment phase. I suspect going aggressively for getting the first turn is worth it with this concept. Not just because it's an extra turn of shooting, but because it's also an extra turn of maneuver to compensate for the opponent getting the advantage of deploying last.

That's not to say that the list couldn't use revision. I went into the game (as well as game 1) with two swordsman and one spearman block. I'm now thinking I should do all spearmen. They're much more general-purpose, and if I'm going to drop the army early to grab the first turn, I won't be fine-tuning close combat encounters anyway. In this game, his two remaining crushers managed to almost grind down my entire swordsman unit and its supporting handgunner detachment, while the swordsmen didn't do much grinding back. Spearmen would have been so much better. The ability of the swordsmen not to get hit on more than 4+ is wasted if they can't kill much back, and the enemy kills just enough every turn not to lose from static combat score. I would probably been better off with spearmen against the dwarfs of game 2 as well, precisely for the reason that sometimes, I need to be able to grind whatever survives the shooting.

I'm also thinking that I could exchange two of the four handgunner units for identical crossbowman units. Also for the sake of versatility. If I'm going to drop early, my opponent may respond by deploying just out of handgun range. With orders, crossbow range is a whole 36'', far enough that my enemy is welcome to do so. A range like that could also be used for other purposes, such as sniping warmachines.
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Offline Konrad von Richtmark

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Re: Would this kind of battleline work? [T9A]
« Reply #19 on: April 30, 2017, 11:59:48 AM »
For public consideration, here is the latest version of the army list I've built based on this concept, and that I'm painting towards putting in tournament-capable condition:

Marshal [General]; Hero's Sword, Dragon Mantle, Shield, Ring of Fire, Talisman of Shielding: 316 pts
Marshal [BSB]; BSB, Great Weapon, Blessed Armour of Frederick the Great: 238 pts
Wizard; Alchemy, 4 spells: 310 pts

30 Spearmen; Command: 350 pts
30 Spearmen; Command: 350 pts
30 Spearmen; Command: 350 pts
15 Handgunners; Standard: 230 pts
15 Handgunners; Standard: 230 pts
15 Crossbowmen; Standard: 230 pts
15 Crossbowmen; Standard: 230 pts
3 Knights of the Sun Griffon; Standard, Musician, Lance & Shield: 350 pts
5 Reiters; Brace of Pistols, Heavy Armour: 200 pts
5 Reiters; Brace of Pistols, Heavy Armour: 200 pts
10 State Militia; Pistols, Skirmishers: 150 pts
Cannon: 260 pts
Cannon: 260 pts
Volley Gun: 235 pts

Total of 4489 pts, Characters 19.20%, Core 43.78%, Special 7.78%, Imperial Auxiliaries 32.67%, Imperial Armoury 16.78%
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Offline Konrad von Richtmark

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Re: Would this kind of battleline work? [T9A]
« Reply #20 on: April 30, 2017, 09:40:00 PM »
I came up with another variant idea.

As was touched on earlier in this thread, this battleline might alternatively use Imperial Guard than core Heavy Infantry. I'm thinking two units of sword and board IG, and four shooter support units. The shooter units get a bit more thinly spread since the middle of the previous three close combat blocks is dropped. However, each of them still has an adjacent IG unit to help it out (and which will provide parent unit steadfast). Also, the line as a whole gets shorter this way, and harder to take out piecemeal, and less likely to encounter deployment space problems.

Also, from experience, I'll have to say that those flank-charging, bannered handgunner detachments are very decent static combat score machines. Countercharging with one gives +1 for charge, +1 for standard, +2 for a heavy flank, and probably +1 for an extra rank. That's a whole +5. To make static combat score matter the most, the enemy should have as hard a time as possible to harvest kills off the unit receiving the charge, and sword and board just happens to be the most anviltastic parent unit we have.

Here's a list I've slapped together based on this concept:

Marshal [General]; Blessed Armour of Frederick the Great, Talisman of Supreme Shielding, Great Weapon: 338 pts
Marshal [BSB]; BSB, Dragon Mantle, Talisman of Greater Shielding, Shield: 266 pts
Wizard; Alchemy, 4 spells, Ring of Fire, Sceptre of Power, Talisman of Shielding: 390 pts

24 Imperial Guard; Command: 417 pts
24 Imperial Guard; Command: 417 pts
15 Handgunners; Standard: 230 pts
15 Handgunners; Standard: 230 pts
15 Crossbowmen; Standard: 230 pts
14 Crossbowmen; Standard: 216 pts
10 Pistol Militia; Pistols, Skirmisher: 150 pts
10 Pistol Militia; Pistols, Skirmisher: 150 pts
5 Reiters; Brace of Pistols
5 Reiters; Brace of Pistols
3 Knights of the Sun Griffon; Standard, Musician, Lances & Shields: 350 pts
Cannon; 260 pts
Cannon; 260 pts
Volley Gun; 235 pts

Total of 4499 pts, Characters 22.09%, Core 26.80%, Special 26.31%, Imperial Auxiliaries 34.80%, Imperial Armoury 16.78%.

I very much like this idea. The two 24-strong IG units are cheaper than the three core heavy infantry blocks. I was thus able to expand to have two units of pistol militia and two of reiters, giving me both proper amounts of mobile and static gunnery. I also decided to tool up the characters for survivability, now that they have a bodyguard unit of IG each. A character outfit for survival and a bodyguard unit with a good armour save should make for a very solid anvil. Having only two close combat infantry blocks (as opposed to three) and two characters also means I won't have to worry at deployment-time which unit will be left characterless, further enabling me to drop the army early.

Next game I think I'll test this list, using swordsmen as proxies for the IG.
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Offline Warlord

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Re: Would this kind of battleline work? [T9A]
« Reply #21 on: May 02, 2017, 07:12:32 AM »
Interesting. However the problem i see, is that your Imperial Guard units are clearly your strategy. Well, that and your small arms gunline. If an enemy focuses fire or magic on one or both of your Imperial Guard, you are toast. I feel like you need more models, or you need something big for misdirection such as a griffon or steam tank?
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Offline Konrad von Richtmark

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Re: Would this kind of battleline work? [T9A]
« Reply #22 on: May 02, 2017, 08:16:15 PM »
I see what you mean. With three heavy infantry blocks, the two middle handgunner units would both be anchored to two parent units each. That's a kind of safe redundancy. On the other hand, that makes it more susceptible to being taken out piecemeal from too low points concentration. Might be that the Imperial Guard variant is less of an active defence setup. On the other hand, I do have the war chicken unit for more active counterattacking. Last game I just found myself having far too many units and too few ways to bring them to bear, but then, as I said, I'm convinced it was mostly due to bad deployment by me.
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Offline Warlord

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Re: Would this kind of battleline work? [T9A]
« Reply #23 on: May 03, 2017, 12:13:08 AM »
If you move aggressively, your handgunners and crossbows cannot shoot. Which makes cheaper armed infantry a better option. It being a gunline, it needs to be defensive to get the points payback for the guns every turn.

Do your opponents normally play MSU armies too? Or do they take more hordes, or is it a mixed bag? I like playing MSU, and I really like the list you put together, but I know that if I lose my anvil staying power early, I am done. I would be aiming any shooting at your anvils, with the aim to have a lower rank bonus by the time I engage with a horde. The horde would prevent at least 1 of your detachments from getting in the flank. I would send my chaff against yours (pistol units) and my smaller support units against your gunners. I really like the amount of static CR they generate, but they NEED to be in a flank. Most of my worry, is you dont have enough killing power in combat.

I am keen to see more reports (dance monkey dance)
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Offline Konrad von Richtmark

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Re: Would this kind of battleline work? [T9A]
« Reply #24 on: May 04, 2017, 09:51:27 PM »
I don't think I've seen any horde here, but then, the local scene is quite small.

Learning from last game, I'd think this army should drop quickly in the deployment phase to get the first turn, pretty much as soon as I can be reasonably sure my guns have something to shoot at. If each IG unit is supported by a handgun and a crossbow unit, orders can be used to get all four shooty infantry units up to a range of 30''. That way, even if the opponent gets a deployment advantage, he'll deploy quite far away if he intends to start out of shooting range (which fulfils the same purpose, and in that case, I can anyway shoot with the crossbows by giving them the orders and pushing their range to 36'').

I suspect that against an attack like you describe, I'd concentrate my firepower on taking out the support units around the horde, while letting the horde advance. I might flee when charged by it, in order to pull it into a position where it's exposed to a flank charge. Next turn, the fleeing units rally, and other of my units turn to flank the horde. The horde gets one turn to break the anvil before flanked, which won't be easy even if reduced by shooting, as it's tanky and stubborn.

In a pinch, the mobile gunnery section of the army (reiters and pistol militia) can delay the horde by jumping in front of it and fleeing from a charge. Also, being mobile, it should be able to bring its firepower to bear with precision.

I'm thinking that a mix of static and mobile gunnery brings synergy effects. Static gunnery gives a target that the enemy needs to engage, dictating the direction of his attack somewhat. Mobile gunnery can then run around and pick on that attack vector from the side, while enemies that chase the mobile gunnery will be delayed in reaching the static gunnery.
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