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Tactica: Balancing an Empire Army

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Calisson:
4.   Balancing the army.
As we have seen,
-   Melee units do most of the business,
-   Buffing units are vital to help melee units,
-   Warmachines can get rid of buffing units,
-   Agile troops can get rid of warmachines,
-   Shooters can get rid of agile troops,
-   Melee units can get rid of shooters.

This looks like an extended paper/rock/scissors game.
If youíre missing one category, the opponent will have an easy game with the next category.
Therefore, you better make sure to have a minimal force in each category, or at least to determine which unit can act in the desired way.
For example, vanilla knights could be considered either as agile troops or melee units; Stank are both melee units and warmachines; TGM are buffers and melee unitsÖ


4.1.   Budgeting.
The overall pts allowance for the army is never enough.

Redundancy.
Often, several units can do the same job.
It is good to have some redundancy:
- one unit may be destroyed early,
- one unit may fail, especially shooting or magic,
- the same job could be required in several places.

However, too much of the same is overkill, and will prevent to get something else.
Check if you don't have too much redundancy in any of the 5 categories above.

Polyvalence.
Sometimes, a single unit can help doing a different job.

Best example is magic users: they can destroy at distance or help in a combat, especially Light, Heavens, Metal, Life & Death (Fire is quite specialized in killing at distance and Beasts & Shadows suit best melees).

The Steam Tank has many uses: Melee unit, Warmachine, but also as tar pit.

Leadership could be provided - less efficiently - by other leaders than a General of The Empire. Especially, the 18" Ld bubble from War Altar of Sigmar, Celestial Hurricanum, Luminark of Hysh, or Beast Griffon should not be forgotten. The Standard of Discipline also helps buffing Ld.

Agile units's role could be considered by small melee units, such as 5 vanilla Knights, or 10 Flagellants or Greatswords acting as speed bumpers.
Outriders can charge warmachines if necessity arises.

The charging power of the two wizard wagons and the War Altar must not be discarded, nor their resistance in melee.


4.2.   A comprehensive toolbox.
Not knowing what we will face, we need tools to handle every situation.

Against huge massive mammoth Łber-units, better have two or more options amongst Mass Murderers:
-   Melee: own Łberunit (with buffs)
-   Melee: many killer units (with buffs, attacking simultaneously)
-   Fire or Metal Lores, possibly Shadows. A single spell of Life, Death or Heavens can work out.
-   Warmachines: Mortars or Helstorm.

Against agile fragile units, have at least one shooting option amongst Bounty Hunters:
-   HelBlaster or Pistoliers or many small shooting units
-   Heavens, Light or Fire Lores.

Against characters, it is nice to have at least one option amongst Professional Assassins:
-   Melee: The Grand Master, or a similar character tailored to win challenges.
-   Agile: Witch Hunters (preferably two).
-   Shooting: Hochland Long Rifles (preferably more than 3).
-   Death Lore.

There are other ďmust not forgetĒ items.
We have dealt with hordes of low cost troops, which require lots of low cost attacks.
But there are foes with high Toughness and excellent armour, for which large amounts of attacks won't be enough.
Make sure to have somewhere enough High Strength attacks to deal with them (in Melee or in Magic Missiles).

Ethereal creatures may show up in your environment.
These must be dealt with by magic weapons, magic spells & buffs, or huge static combat resolution. Make sure to have two of these tools.

Let me know what other "must have" I missed, I will edit.


4.3.   Percentages and slots.
There is a minimum or maximum allowance for core/special/rare/hero/lord.
There are slots for special/rare.

This is where some units may replace some other units, with similar role but taken on another budget.

Melee units: if you exceed the % somewhere, see what can compensate elsewhere.
Core Infantry: Halberdiers, Spearmen, Swordsmen, Free Company,
Special Infantry: Greatswords, Flagellants.

Core Cavalry: Knightly Orders, Inner Circle Knights,
Special Cavalry: Reiksguard Knights, Demigryph Knights,
Rare Cavalry: Steam Tank,
Lord Cavalry: Templar Grand Master.

Buffing units.
Core/Special Ld buff: Magic standards (Standard of Discipline, Gleaming Pennant); Musician.
Hero Ld buff: Captain of The Empire,
Lord Ld buff: General of The Empire.

Core/Special fighting buff: Magic standards (any); Pennant bearer, Champion, shields.
Rare fighting buff: Celestial Hurricanum, Luminark of Hysh,
Hero fighting buff: War Priest, Battle Wizard (especially signatures from Beasts, Heavens, Shadows, and attribute of Life),
Lord fighting buff: Arch Lector, War Altar of Sigmar, Celestial Hurricanum (with Wizard Lord), Luminark of Hysh (with Wizard Lord), Wizard Lord.

Warmachines.
Special: Mortar, Cannon,
Rare: Helstorm, Steam Tank's cannon,
Hero: Engineer (who is worth half the warmachine he assists), Battle Wizard (with Fire signature spell),
Lord: Wizard Lord (Fire, Light or Heavens kill at 48", like warmachines).

Agile units
Core shooting skirmishers: Archers,
Special shooting skirmishers/scouts/fast cav: Huntsmen, Pistoliers, possibly Outriders (they can charge a warmachine, too),
Hero flyers: Pegasus ridden by a Captain of The Empire,
Lord flyers: General of The Empire (Pegasus, Griffon), Wizard Lord (Pegasus, Griffon for Beast)

Core redirectors: 5 Spearmen detachment, or other small detachment,
Hero disrupter: Witch Hunter (especially inside Archer unit, or using a magic carpet, or assisted by Shadows Wizard Lord).

BS shooters
Core: Handgunners, Crossbowmen,
Special: Outriders,
Rare: HelBlaster Volley Gun, but also Celestial Hurricanum or Luminark of Hysh, which range is consistent with shooter's role.
Hero: Engineer (assisting HelBlaster Volley Gun, or using Hochland Long Rifle or Pigeons)
Lord: Wizard Lord (Metal, Life and Death, which have destructive power at a range consistant with shooter's role)


4.4.   Budgeting powerdice.
You need to check that all powerdice users will get some. Thatís tricky as many buffs use the scarce powerdice.

Getting more dice:
Taking many Warrior Priest and Battle Wizards; and Channeling Staff offer more chances of channeling.
One Hurricanum and one Luminark add one die to the PD/DD pool.

Increasing the efficiency of the PD spent:
More efficient: Arch Lector with War Altar of Sigmar buffs several units with the same prayer,
Less efficient: Warrior Priest can buff only their own units; at least, they follow their units where they are, even if they are not grouped together.

Most efficient: A level 4 gets +4 to cast, that's huge when a die averages 3.5.
Increased efficency: Book of Ashur, Power Scroll, Wand of Jet, Power Stone.
Less efficient: A level 1 casts the same spells with +1.
Least efficient: Ring of Volans, War Altar of Sigmar, Celestial Hurricanum, Luminark of Hysh: bounded objects have no bonus.

Doing the job without powerdice:
Celestial Hurricanum, Luminark of Hysh provide buffs which require no powerdice.

A Witch Hunter on a magic carpet, or several of them, could be considered instead of a Death spell caster.
A warmachine could be considered instead of a Fire spell caster.

Calisson:
5. The recipe for an army.
Flour, sugar, butter, egg, milk in various proportions make various pastries. There are good recipes, bad ones, but none can claim to have the only good one.
Melee, Buffing, Warmachines, Agile troops, Shooters in various proportions make various army styles. There are good and bad recipes, too.

Among the 31 possible combinations, some are more promising than others.
Hereafter, when I say that such and such race plays that way, of course this is a caricature (especially since I don't know much most of them).
Also, note that I do not discuss the merits of cavalry vs infantry, they all belong to melee troops (it's just that cavalry does it faster, infantry does it longer).


5.1. Single dominant flavor (50 to 75% of the pts allowance to a single aspect).
Thatís a caricature, nobody does that, except possibly melee.
Let's examine why. We will highlight the difficulties of being too much focused on a single aspect.

-   Melee dominant.
Someone who tries that will soon find out that most of our melee troops are crappy vs other races counterparts; they need buffs.
If nobody can stop opponentís warmachines, our melee troops will be decimated.
If opponentís agile troops can freely bump in our feet, our strategy will fail.
Leave that to Ogre Kingdoms.

-   Buffing dominant.
The good point is the low £Ä$ real-life cost, with the many characters.
But someone has to do the killing job, and many buffs compete for the same scarce powerdice.
Also, buffers make nice juicy targets for enemyís shooting & warmachines.

-   Warmachine dominant.
The Core minimum should delay the arrival of the enemy. Probably not as long as necessary for warmachines to wipe them off.

-   Agile dominant.
Avoidance can be a strategy. But if nobody is killed on the other side, thatís a losing strategy.

-   Shooting dominant.
As already demonstrated, opposing troops will reach our lines long before we can destroy them.


5.2. Double flavor (75% to 100% dedicated to two aspects).
Letís see if there are enough synergies to make a correct, workable army.

-   Melee and Buffing.
The Łber Death Star.
Thatís nice. Unless the opponent can tar pit that unit and harass everything else.
And WoC, and VC do it better.

-   Melee and Warmachine.
Warmachines will soften up the enemy. Melee troops will have an easier job.
Good point is that it requires no uncertain magic buffs, nor vulnerable character buffs.
The trouble can come from opponentís agile troops, who can freely circumvent our troops to get after our warmachines.
And Dwarfs & Goblins do it better.

-   Melee and Agile.
Thatís a very tactical game. Agile troops to get rid of annoying warmachines and to canalize opponents where we wish. Melee to do the dirty job.
The trouble will come from elite opponents, which laugh at our melee troops and onto which agile troops will bounce back.
And Dark Elves do it better.

-   Melee and Shooting.
A classic one. Shooting dwindles the enemy and melee finishes it.
Trouble is the lack of influence at more than 30Ē. The enemy will choose where and when to fight.
And Khemri do it better.

-   Buffing and Warmachine.
Flaming warmachines, rerolling 1ís, for the win!
No, thatís not enough to win. They will be charged very quickly. Someone has to babysit them, and once the babysitters are engaged, thereís no more eligible target.

-   Buffing and Agile.
Here, nobodyís doing the dirty job. Bound to fail.

-   Buffing and Shooting.
Flaming shooters, rerolling 1ís, for the win!
Well no, even boosted, our shooters cannot win.

-   Warmachine and Agile.
Agile troops to help keeping the opponents at bay, where they are sitting ducks for our warmachines.
However, thatís extremely fragile.

-   Warmachine and Shooting.
The opponentís answer will be easy: rush and charge with everything across the bullets.

-   Agile and Shooting.
Sure, shooting is not very effective. But as long as we can avoid the opposing main troops and kill their warmachines and light troops, who cares?
That could be attempted. Still, itís very fragile.
And WE do it better.


5.3. Triple flavor (90-100% to three aspects, the two other discarded or kept minimal).
Here, we have the tools to deal with most threats.
A quick investigation suggests that there are many different flavors that could be tried.

-   Melee, Buffing & Warmachine.
Our melee troops with buffs are up to the best elite troops. Our warmachines are the best.
Start at long range with warmachines. That will damage badly the opponent. Especially if buffed.
When the opponentís troops arrive, we charge with our boosted troops.
The difficult part is to protect our warmachines Ė but they may have enough time to do their job.
And to be protected from opponentís warmachines Ė but our buffs may help us to withstand that.
Otherwise, that seems a very promising combination.
Don't Bretonnians thrive on that?

-   Melee, Buffing & Agile.
Who cares about any shooting? Letís charge!
Agile troops will take care of opponent warmachines, and help canalize the opponent where we wish.
The trouble can come if our own agile troops are decimated too early.
Otherwise, that seems a very promising combination.
Isn't it the way of Dark Elves and Beastmen?

-   Melee, Buffing & Shooting.
Here, Shootingís role is mostly to soften up the incoming enemy before we start the melee.
Trouble is if the enemy is in no hurry to come, then we will remain sitting ducks for their long range destruction.
Or if the enemy is too fast, our shooting will have no effect.
Still, if buffing serves both shooting and melee (Heavens), it could be considered.
If it works for High Elves, that could work for us, too.

-   Melee, Warmachine & Agile.
No shooting, little pts spent on fickle characters. Our melee might be weak, but the enemy, delayed by our agile troops and dwindled by our warmachines, will be weak too.
That would require nice tactical skills, but why not?

-   Melee, Warmachine & Shooting.
Shoot them at long range. Shoot them more at short range. Stand & Shoot. Engage whatever remains.
Simple, straightforward, static.
Could work, Dwarfs can do it so why couldnít we?

-   Melee, Agile & Shooting.
Here, agile troops are to hunt warmachines. When the opponent will have no means to damage us at distance, he will be forced to come at us, to cross our shooting range before meeting with our melee troops.
Could work, WE can do it so why couldnít we?

-   Buffing, Warmachine & Agile.
Trouble is that agile troops wonít prevent opponents to reach our warmachines.
Thatís not a winning combination.

-   Buffing, Warmachine & Shooting.
Trouble is that nobody will prevent opponents to reach our shooters, then our warmachines.
But if Skaven can thrive on that, there migh be some lessons to learn for us.

-   Buffing, Agile & Shooting.
Thatís pure avoidance list. If the opponent has little means to kill us at distance, heís doomed.
The trouble is that it lacks the main killers. Chances are that we canít wound much the enemy, too.

-   Warmachine, Agile & Shooting.
All the killing is done at distance. Trouble is that agile troops wonít delay incoming opponents for long enough.
Thatís not a winning combination.


5.4. Quadruple flavor.
Here, we take a bit of everything except one of the flavours.
Everything could be attempted, there is no inherent flaw.

-   Without Melee.
Why not?  Thatís definitively not the classic Empireís way, but for people who hate blood (their own) and want to fight like in the Future, thatís a way to explore.
Set as far in the rear of the deployment zone as we can, we start by shooting at distance with warmachines.
Agile troops will delay the progression of the enemy.
Once they arrive in shooting range, the opponents will suffer all the more that our shooting is boosted with hormones.
Our shooters are crappy in melee, but with some boost, they may resist an enfeebled foe.

-   Without Buffing.
The good thing is that most buffing requires powerdice that youíre never guaranteed to get.
Set as far in the rear of the deployment zone as we can, we start by shooting at distance with warmachines.
Agile troops will delay the progression of the enemy.
Next, the opponents arrive in our shooting range.
When the exhausted remaining foes will reach our melee troops, they will no longer need buffs.

-   Without Warmachine.
Here, the shooting serves mostly to get rid of annoying small opposing units that interfere in our path.
This kind of army must go forwards. Agile troops will scout and prepare the arrival of our boosted melee troops.
Thatís a way for cavalry armies.
But infantry could try it too. Lizardmen can do it, humans should be able to do it too.

-   Without Agile.
Shooters babysitting warmachines in the rear. Boosted melee troops charging the opponent as soon as they arrive in range.
The only thing that will lack is the light troops which can force the opponent to go our way rather than his own. Never mind, we can do without.
Thatís typical for static infantry armies.

-   Without Shooting.
Shooting is crappy anyway.
Warmachines deal damage at distance, protected by agile troops.
Boosted melee troops engage the enemy, with more agile troops forcing the opponent to come at us in our terms.
That requires many agile troops, but that sounds interesting.
And thatís the new way for many Empire gamers.


5.5. Full flavor.
A bit of everything.
Sure, you wish youíd have more melee troops.
But youíre glad youíve brought warmachines to kill at distance, especially if you can kill opponent's characters.
Your shooters take care of opponentís light troops, fanatics and the likes.
Your agile troops take care of opponentís warmachines and annoy the opponent.
Your melee troops are not in large numbers, but they have little to fear from opponentís warmachines and they are boosted to elite status.
Thatís a balanced army, offering the largest number of tools for the general.
Only The Empire can play that way.


5.6. Which flavor will be yours?
Fortunately, not everyone plays the same way. That would become a boring beaten track.
There are many flavors that are explored and bring results.
There are many other flavors that seem less obvious, but may well work too with some creativity and fine tuning.

Anyone Can Cook, says Chef Gusto.
What will be your recipe?





6.   Conclusion.
As a conclusion, I am confident that the present Army Book allows many different combinations, with an emphasis either on infantry or cavalry (both belonging to the same melee category) and plenty of choices inside these categories.
There's no single successful way.
You can try your own.
Have fun!

burdigala:
from france

impressive ;)

rothgar13:
A very thorough look at the Empire army as a whole (and from a remarkably unbiased perspective, to boot). I salute your efforts. :::cheers:::

Calisson:
Added in ß 2.2 & 2.3 a study about how to get the charge with infantry, cavalry, Steel Standard and Steam Tank.

Thereís some innovative read as well in ß 3 about magic.

Enjoy! For Sigmar! :dry:

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