Author Topic: Tactica: Empire Infantry-Based Lists  (Read 16265 times)

Offline Holy Hand Grenade

  • Moderator
  • Members
  • Posts: 2319
  • Never leave the Province without it...
Tactica: Empire Infantry-Based Lists
« on: July 24, 2012, 12:32:58 PM »
Tactica:  Empire Infantry-Based Lists

The purpose of this Tactica is to collect ideas, theories, personal experiences, and “tricks of the trade” on how Empire Generals field infantry-based lists.

I think any discussion on this topic has to start with Jorgen A's Tactica contribution he made back in Jan.  It gives the historical backgrounds of infantry, cavalry, ranged, and most important for us, combined arms warfare and his thoughts and applications to Warhammer.  Worth the read.

Also, Calisson's detailed analysis on How to Balance an Empire Army is pure gold. 

If you have seen an old post on this-  or written one yourself- put a link in here!
« Last Edit: May 25, 2013, 01:20:33 PM by Holy Hand Grenade »
If at first you don't succeed...you either don't have enough faith or you need to bring more explosives

HHG's TDG/TEG Dice Tracker

Offline Holy Hand Grenade

  • Moderator
  • Members
  • Posts: 2319
  • Never leave the Province without it...
Re: Tacticas for W-E: Building Balanced Lists & War Preparation
« Reply #1 on: July 24, 2012, 09:06:16 PM »
I think any discussion on this topic has to start with Jorgen A's Tactica contribution he made back in Jan.  It gives the historical backgrounds of infantry, cavalry, ranged, and most important for us, combined arms warfare and his thoughts and applications to Warhammer.  Worth the read.

Also, Calisson's detailed analysis on How to Balance an Empire Army is pure gold.  Calission-  maybe you can move/repost your ideas here?

If you have seen an old post on this-  or written one yourself- put a link in here!

I am currently writing a post to build off what Jorgen and Calisson started about balance and list building thoughts...will have out to you shortly.
« Last Edit: July 24, 2012, 09:41:21 PM by Holy Hand Grenade »
If at first you don't succeed...you either don't have enough faith or you need to bring more explosives

HHG's TDG/TEG Dice Tracker

Offline Holy Hand Grenade

  • Moderator
  • Members
  • Posts: 2319
  • Never leave the Province without it...
Re: Tacticas for W-E: Building Balanced Lists & War Preparation
« Reply #2 on: July 28, 2012, 08:22:13 AM »
The Principle of Balance & Infantry-Based Armies

***Note-  I am going to use the terms I shared in my thread The Tao of the Empire-  such as Tao, shih and node.  To understand what I am talking about, it would help if you took the time to read it.

Calisson laid the foundation of this discussion in his thread How to Balance an Empire Army.  He went into painstaking detail on every asset available to an Empire General and offered all the different possibilities that could be combined to create an army.  It is a treasure chest.

I am not going to duplicate his effort here.  I am going to offer few maxims that I use to create powerful, effective Empire lists.  I am going to call them premises below because you may or may not agree with them.


The purpose of this post is to talk about balance.  Extreme lists can sometimes be fun to play, but to win consistently with Empire, a General needs to build a list with a strong foundation and include elements that support this foundation.  Foundation first, then support. 

The foundation is your “center of gravity” from which your army draws its strength and power from.  If you foundation falls, your army falls.  It is your primary source of shih-  all rest of your forces add their shih to this foundation to lead to victory.

The first premise I want to put forward:  I think that Empire with the new 8th Edition army book has two primary foundations-  one is cavalry and the other is infantry. 

          --A third is artillery.  However, I only listed cavalry and infantry because I personally do not think that artillery
          is a dependable foundation anymore.  Gunlines are certainly doable, but they are more expensive points-
          wise to field than before and are less fun for your opponent to play against.  Who really wants to face a
          gunline?  Our new army books pushes us in the direction of infantry and cavalry-  and instead of resisting it,
          we should embrace it (until 9th Edition comes along…but let’s focus on the present).

          --You could argue that another foundation could be an infantry/cavalry mix.  While this is possible, I would
          submit to you that one or the other probably costs more points and carries more weight/punch in the list. 
          Therefore, for simplicity’s sake, I think covering infantry-based lists and cavalry-based lists will cover all the
          necessary ground…

I am only going cover the infantry-based army in this post because it is probably the most common… and one a new Empire player could easily adopt and have success with.  I encourage someone else to create a thread on the cavalry-based army!   

The Infantry Foundation:

So let’s talk about the foundation-  our human infantry.  Jorgen A gives an awesome historical overview of infantry and ties it in to Empire and combined arms.  Read it now if you want to get some of that background.  It ties in really well to this post! 

We obviously need some infantry blocks but how many and what type?  I do not plan to debate spears versus swords, hordes versus busses, lots of detachments versus none, and so on.  I think you could use anything in the book and be successful with it.  I primarily want to look at balance.  So let’s start with a macro view-  how many troops do we need?  What is the right balance?

I don’t think point cost is the best way to look at how much infantry you should put on the line.  I personally think wounds is a much better metric.  You need somewhere between 75-150 wounds of human flesh.  You can get away with 75 if you are leaning towards quality over quantity…but you will need at least 100 if you are going for quantity over quality.

This will probably be somewhere between 25 to 35 percent of your total army points.  Some go more than this-  but I think your troops will suffer from a lack of support.  We are not a horde army per se, just like we aren’t an elite army.  We are a combined-arms armyWhich leads me to my second premise:  the most effective Empire army to field with our new 8th Edition army book is a combined arms one. 

The 25-35% infantry and 65-75% support ratio accurately reflects modern-day armies.  For every Grunt, there are at least 3 personnel “behind” them supporting them with admin, intel, logistics, medical support, etc.  Despite having served in the military for 22 years, it still baffles my mind on how much support is actually required to sustain 1 company of troops in the field…let alone a battalion or regiment.  The same holds true for Empire.  Just putting a bunch of troops out on the field will likely spell defeat.  Support is a necessary component of a combined arms approach.

So, in our case, support qualifies as magic, artillery, missile weapons, light and heavy cav, buff wagons, characters and chaff/diverters.  The immediate question that comes to mind is what kind of support to bring and in what mix?  The possibilities are endless, really.  However, my third premise in building a balanced Empire list is this:  every single point that is spent on support should be included with the express intent of supporting the foundation-  in this case, our infantry. 

Including a bunch of “toys” and “cool stuff” is not going to net you a bunch of victories.  Each addition needs to have a purpose and reason for being included.  The shih of each unit needs to be built upon the infantry foundation to create the overall Tao you are trying to create. 

I am not going to advocate one support option over another.  Going heavier on magic is viable, as is including lots of ranged support.  The key thing to remember is that our support options are nice-  but they are not always reliable.  The Winds of Magic are fickle and artillery pieces misfire all the time.  Missile weapons are not accurate and enemy units are not always in range.  Characters can be killed fairly easily.  Cavalry is probably the most reliable support unit- but even it can be hampered by Dangerous Terrain, enemy diverters, and the likelihood of roaming outside your General’s Leadership bubble and the safety of the BSB’s re-rolls (if your General and BSB are in the cavalry…then I really think you are running a cavalry-based list.)


So with my first 3 premises in mind, let’s dive into a more detailed discussion on composition.  I really like Jorgen A’s methodology of trying to include 3 to 5 components into a list.  He advocates for exactly 3 components and gives historical examples on why.  I agree with him.

However, I am going to differ with him slightly in my methodology by looking at components as different hammers and anvils included in a list-  and not by unit type like he does.  (His components are infantry, cavalry, missile, artillery, monsters, and magic.)

The reason why:  I see the primary attribute of a component is something that fills up space on the ground and can hold terrain.  These hammer and anvil components (or components that are both a hammer and an anvil like the Steam Tank) are either a unit or units that work together to perform a function on the battlefield and can hold terrain.

Using this framework, magic is not a component-  magic users do not hold terrain and are usually hiding in another unit/component.  Same thing with buff wagons-  they do fill up space but are not used to hold terrain and are usually hiding behind the lines.  Several artillery pieces could form a component-  something common in many Empire armies.  Troops armed with missile weapons could be a component, but more often than not they are supporting another component, like infantry or artillery, and are not a component themselves.  Cavalry can be a component if taken as 8-15 models (heavy cavalry in the 4-6 range).  I think a Steam Tank can be a component too-  due to its durability, lasting power, and potential to grind down enemy troops. 

You need to build several components or cohesive fighting units into your list.  In lower point battles, you might only be able to get up to two, but in the 2000-2500 range, three components should be the norm.  At 3000 and higher, you can obviously build in more.  Points are limited-  so I think that a few, more powerful components are better than more, less powerful ones. 

Examples-  a Halberd horde and its detachments could be used as a hammer.  Cavalry blocks also make great hammers.  Popular anvils are Spear busses, but an anvil could be a smaller Halberd block meant to be a speedbump, not a force for destruction.

The case I am trying to make here is that you need to build pockets/bundles of capability or shih.  How many hammer versus anvils really depends on your playstyle and how you envision your forces flowing together and creating synergy. 

If I had to lean one way, it would be towards more hammers than anvils.  You have to field some kind of capability that can force node on the enemy…defense is only good for allowing the right moment to bring on the heat and deliver the offense.  Even in modern combat, you only go on the defensive if you need to in order to build momentum for the next strike or if you are applying economy of force in one area while you concentrate your combat power in another.

Calisson gives excellent analysis of different types of army “flavors” in his Balanced Army thread in 5.2:  The Recipes for an Army.  If you are looking for ideas on what kind of components you want to use and what kind of shih is your style, it is a worthy read.  You could use any of his suggested “flavors-” but if you using my first 3 premises for an infantry-based army, than infantry is obviously one of the flavors you need to choose.   

All of this leads to my fourth premise:  you can get the most out of your army by forming components.

To help visualize what I mean by components, I offer the following graphs as examples.  My most recent list has 3 components-  a half-Griffon Formation based on a Greatsword horde, a large cavalry block of 15 Inner Circle Knights, and a Steam Tank.  Using a “relationship” graph like I previewed in The Tao of the Empire thread, here is what the bundles of shih look like:

Before we start talking about what kinds of support to put in your list for these components, I have a few graphs on how I envision they could be used on the battlefield.  (I will likely post more detailed examples in the Tactica for maneuvering, but I want to include a few graphs here so you can envision the components in action.)

You could move forward as far as you can go with all 3 components.  In the example below, the cavalry on the left (with a longer range of influence) would move farther forward and push on the left flank.

One of the things I like to do is stagger the line-  especially against an opponent with more units than me.  In the first example, the center unit holds back a bit, allowing the two flank components to move forward to create more of a V than a straight battle line.  This puts a nice kill zone in the middle of the components.

Another solid move is to push forward with the center component and hold back a little bit on the flanks.  This inverted V works well if your opponent has lots of fast flanking forces and you want to keep your extreme flanks back to avoid being encircled.  It still creates a nice kill zone-  the two back components can move up as needed to support the center.

I like the staggered line approach.  It also lends itself to my last premise, which I will cover later.

The next graph is an example of how a battle line would look with an artillery nest in the rear as the third component.  Usually this means you don’t push the battle line up too far to avoid easy access to your rear areas-  and to give your artillery support more time to blast the enemy before the lines are engaged.

So to summarize before we move on-  think about the forces you like to use, and imagine creating the base of your army into several components that will work together to hold terrain, pin the enemy, or destroy him.  In the case of an infantry-based army, at least 1 of the components is going to be infantry, but it could be more.
If at first you don't succeed...you either don't have enough faith or you need to bring more explosives

HHG's TDG/TEG Dice Tracker

Offline Holy Hand Grenade

  • Moderator
  • Members
  • Posts: 2319
  • Never leave the Province without it...
Re: Tacticas for W-E: Building Balanced Lists & War Preparation
« Reply #3 on: July 28, 2012, 08:23:25 AM »
Supporting the Foundation:

Now we are going to look at what kind of support you need to build into your list to backup the components you have created. 

Again, Calisson’s thread is a great resource to tap into.  He outlines what units/characters/Lores can be used for what purpose…and how well they do it.  Reading his Comprehensive toolbox is especially pertinent.  No matter what components you use-  you need to think about adding in support that will assist against all the various threats you are going to face on the battlefield:

--If you can’t handle a massive horde, you are going to have problems. 
--If you can’t handle a few monsters, you are going to get eaten. 
--If you can’t handle a bunch of enemy wizards, you are going to get fried/vortexed/out-buffed or sucked to your doom. 
--If you don’t have an answer for Ethereal creatures, you are going to get tarpitted. 

You will probably not be great at handling every threat…but you at least need to think about how you are going to mitigate them-  otherwise you WILL face the wrong opponent some day.

I am not going to duplicate Calisson’s contribution on the subject of support-  but I do want to take a “macro” view on the subject and offer some suggestions.   

Magic Support:

Magic support is necessary.  Even if you don’t go magic heavy and devote a lot of points to it-  having a Lvl 4 Wizard and one dispel scroll are almost “must-haves” for magic defense alone.  Magic-heavy armies will eat you alive if you take less.  The Elector’s Forum is full of opinions on the merits of different Lores so I am not going to cover it now-  except to say that whatever you pick has to jive with my third premise-  that all support must be taken to benefit the foundation and components you have chosen.     

AL/WPs are obvious choices due to their prayers that directly affect infantry combat power.  Other buffing/debuffing Lores are also solid choices.  Nukers and ranged magic could also be taken-  especially if you go light in other ranged categories.  Your troops can soak up some wounds, but they are only human after all and can’t handle multiple nasty monsters or elite units without them being whittled down or destroyed before reaching your lines. 

Ranged Support:

If you don’t have any ranged magic attacks, then including some kind of missile or artillery support is necessary.  Even if you do, I think having other ranged options is important because of the fickle nature of magic.  Helblasters (especially with an Engineer) have become an excellent choice.  Cannons are still a nasty addition to any army.  The thing to keep in mind with ranged support is to remember that it is still only support.  It will not usually win you the battle any more, but it is a critical component of the combined arms approach.   

If you take Warmachines then you have to plan on how to defend them and deploy them.  You don’t HAVE to defend them if you only want to get a couple of cannon shots off before the two battle lines meet, but they add another static dimension to your army that you need to account for.  Regardless, a little bit of defense can go a long way in keeping those assets on the table and keep them up and firing.

An opponent appropriately equipped and determined to kill Warmachine nests will likely take them out-  but that is okay.  If you use the components you have built and use them effectively, you are applying your combat power against his juicy targets and stand a good chance of coming out on top.

Character Support:

In an infantry-based army, I think that characters primarily serve defensive support purposes, not offensive ones (except maybe for some magic users).  They provide much needed leadership, Hold the Line and Hold your Ground and buffing support. 
I give them defensive gear and cheap magic items that build the shih of the units they join.  Remember-  every point spent should support the overall effect you are trying to achieve-  either in a unit, a component, or in the infantry-based army as a whole.

Diverter/Chaff Support:

The last support units I am going to discuss are diverters.  Our new detachment rules give us easy access to cheap dispensable options-  whether it is 5-man Free Company,  Spearmen, or Archer detachments.  More expensive mobile options are available too-  such as 5 vanilla Knights or Pistoliers.  Regardless of what you pick, I can’t stress enough the importance of spending points on units devoted to the purpose of diverting, march-blocking and messing with the shih of your opponent and his plans.  If you don’t take them, your opponent is going to be able to dictate the flow of the battle and line up the charges and battles he wants to conduct, when he wants to conduct them.

Besides just being outmatched in a specific one versus one battle, the primary killer and remover of units in Warhammer is when it gets charged by multiple enemy units, especially when this happens in the flank or rear.  Only really badass units (or Stubborn ones) can stand up to this for long-  and our options for these types of units is small indeed.  Obviously, avoiding these situations is important.  Horde armies achieve this by sheer numbers and mass, while MSU-style armies achieve it by lots of units and speed. 

I think Empires best way of achieving it is by mixing hammers, anvils and diverters in such a way to avoid/divert the combats you want to hold off on, while applying decisive combat power at specific places at specific points in time to achieve node.  This is one aspect of the “combined arms” approach.

My various Griffon Formations are how I attempt to achieve it…but they are certainly not the only way.  Using hammers, anvils, and diverters properly take practice, but when a Warhammer player creates an army he is comfortable with and masters its shih to achieve multiple node, his level of play is significantly increased.

Working Towards a Combined Arms Approach:

I am not going to go into too much detail on the combined arms approach here (I plan to contribute a thread or two under the Combined Arms Tactica) but I think one concept is important to point out now-  Empire’s combined arms approach works best when we can manage/dictate the flow of the game by keeping combat to one main battle per turn.  This is one of the reasons I think diverters are so important-  they provide the extra time and space needed to attempt to accomplish this.

Horde armies want multiple combats.  Their Generals use the principle of mass to overwhelm the opponent with more troops and wounds than can be killed.  Some MSU armies desire multiple combats hoping to overwhelm by combo-charges against several different targets, while other MSU armies that rely on magic or specific units have to be more patient because they can only afford so many of their key support units.  Regardless, Empire Generals are best served in preserving their combat power by keeping the combats limited to what they can handle.

My last premise:  the best scenario for an Empire player is one key combat per turn.  Usually this means one component of yours is engaged, while the others are holding off or are used in as economy of force.  Hopefully this combat is one where the Empire has achieved combat superiority, either by numbers or multiple charges.  Magic support-  whether prayers or buffs can be tossed their way and disrupt/nuke spells can be cast on enemy units that threaten to join the combat.  This is combined arms in action!  Hammers are used to hammer, anvils are used to anvil, diverters are diverting, and support magic is being poured in-  all to achieve node.  This perfect scenario is not always achievable, but I think it should be strived for.

I looked through my Battle Reports to find an example of using components during a battle and how I managed to isolate one key engagement on my turn.  The best one I could find was the graph below.  I had multiple units in combat, but the one that really mattered to me was my Greatsword horde versus a Ghoul horde.  I used all my detachments to tie up units on the flanks of the Greatsword combat and had defense in depth on my far left flank to worry about his Black Knights. 

The two components in reserve turned out to be key-  as his Black Knights were able to kill one of my components (my Knights) and push deep into my backfield.  The Tank, (another component) was positioned to pick up the slack.

Review of Premises:

So in summary, my 5 premises in building an effective balanced list are:

1.   Empire has two primary foundations:  cavalry or infantry.  This is your “center of gravity” and the source of most of your shih.

2.   Empire’s most effective approach is a combined arms one (Empire’s Tao).

3.   Every point spent on support sustains the foundation (infantry in this case) to achieve a combined arms approach.

4.   Forming components is the best way to maximize the shih of your army and achieve combined arms.

5.   Empire can achieve the most out of its combined arms by having one component involved in combat at a time.

A Checklist for Building a Balanced List using my Premises:

1.   Come up with a rough figure of total wounds of infantry you want to put on the table.  Decide if you are going to lean towards quality or quantity.
2.   Start with a few unit types, sizes, detachments.  Sketch out how it would look on the battlefield.
3.   Think about how many components you want to form and what do you have so far.  What else fits your style to flush out all the components you need?
4.   Start thinking about formations.  What is going to work together?  How are you going to usually deploy what you have so far?
5.   Add in support to make the components you have so far fully combat capable.  (For instance, Engineers with Helblasters, WPs in infantry blocks, etc).
6.   Make sure you are going to meet Core requirements.  Add to meet Core.  If you are already running out of points, go back and look at your components again and adjust to more Core-friendly choices.
7.   Go back and make sure everything included so far fits the 5 premises.
8.   Now the hard part begins-  fill up the rest of your points with the support that is still lacking or things you want to include.
9.   Double-check-  how is Leadership?   The BSB?  Places for your magic users to go?
10.   Attack your list thinking about every possible threat.  Do you have magic defense?  Diverters?  Some speed?  Can you handle a Deathstar?  MSU?  Can you take out Monsters?  Handle Monstrous Cav or Infantry?  Deal with flying or Ethereal?
11.   Readjust as necessary and make final tweaks.
12.   Use the army and whoop some ass.  Go back through this checklist as necessary to fine tune your army. 

Concluding Thoughts:

In this balancing thread, I purposely steered clear of telling you exactly what type of units to take, how many to take of them, and how to use them.  The Elector’s Forum and Parade Ground is full of that type of advice.  I am trying to take you a step above those conversations and talk about building a balanced army from the ground up with forces that matter to you and fit your playstyle-  essentially your Empire Tao

I tried to give practical advice and offered my Empire listbuilding maxims on things to think about in building a balanced, combined arms list and what forms or shih you should consider when building upon an infantry foundation.

I consider this post my central philosophy in how to use Empire.  The Griffon Formation thread and The Tao of the Empire thread were really primers for these thoughts.  The 5 premises are really the reason Empire is my favorite army…I love the combined arms approach and watching my humans, who are usually outnumbered or outclassed, dismantle other “uber” armies is an awesome sight.

My methodology and framework certainly aren’t the only way, but it is a way founded in military theory- that has been tested in fire and blood and has produced victory more often than naught! 

Hope you found it useful.
If at first you don't succeed...you either don't have enough faith or you need to bring more explosives

HHG's TDG/TEG Dice Tracker

Offline FriscoEmpire

  • Members
  • Posts: 86
Re: Tacticas for W-E: Building Balanced Lists & War Preparation
« Reply #4 on: July 31, 2012, 12:28:28 AM »
That is incredibly well done.  Absolutely first rate.  I can't wait to see your next segments.  This is precisely what drew me to Warhammer (and to fielding an Empire army).

Offline warhammerlord_soth

  • Administrator
  • Members
  • Posts: 10469
  • Eurobash : Ascension weekend. Be there !
Re: Tacticas for W-E: Building Balanced Lists & War Preparation
« Reply #5 on: July 31, 2012, 07:11:13 AM »
Calission-  maybe you can move/repost your ideas here?

Callison can't, but I did...  :happy:
Have one  on Midaski's tab.  :::cheers:::
Famous last words. R.I.P.

Offline Calisson

  • Bar Brawlers
  • Members
  • Posts: 738
  • From Druchii.net
Re: Tacticas for W-E: Building Balanced Lists & War Preparation
« Reply #6 on: July 31, 2012, 09:02:03 AM »
(Pending the real Calission or Callison speaking up  :icon_wink:)
Thanks warhammerlord_soth for your appreciation :icon_biggrin:

Great to see HHG's highly intreresting initiatives all moved here in The Tactica Board.
Hopefully, there will be productive answers posted thereafter.


Here below is an article I wrote in another website, which remains valid for the Empire.
What is needed in an army.

In this 2 post sub-thread, we will review the roles to be fulfilled in an army.
For the sake of beginners, I start with fundamentals.

1.   What wins battles?
Your army is chosen by you, the general, for some purpose: themed force, cool models, fielding what you just happen to have, tournament competition, prove to the world (or to your brother) that you're the best...
Here, I'll discuss only about what is required or useful for your army to win battles.
Most scenarios require you to get more victory points (VPs) than you concede to your opponent.

- Only units destroyed or fled out of the battlefield concede VPs (p.143).
=> you need to destroy to the last model of the enemy unit, or force him off the table.

- Additional VPs are brought by the general (worth 100 more VPs).
=> the general is a highly rewarding target.

- Battle Standard (BSB) concedes 100 additional VPs, and unit’s standards concede 25 VPs immediately, if their unit breaks away from melee (p.94) or is slain in combat. These VPs are not obtained for other kind of destruction.
=> the BSB is a highly rewarding target.

- Finally, a champion killing a character brings out 50 more VPs for underdog challenge. Note that if the champion is killed, it concedes 0 VP as only destroying the whole unit counts.
This hardly ever happens, unless you face a helpless level 2 naked sorcerer. Now, with a demigriph champion...

- In addition, scenario #4 requires the army to have some standards: one standard minimum at 1001-2000, two standards at 2001-3000…
=> just make sure you get the minimum available. It is advisable to have at least two standards above that minimum.

- In addition, scenario #6 rewards armies with infantry, or with means to dislodge infantry from a tower (flaming attacks spring to mind).
=> it is useful to have one resistant unit of infantry, or several small units, and to have the means to dislodge or destroy an opposing unit inside a building (shooting is hampered by hard cover – templates may hit only 1D6 model – only 10 infantrymen can fight – however, flaming attacks reroll failed wounds).

So, overall, you need your units to destroy some opposing unit and resist being destroyed. This is what we will examine now.

2.   Destroying foes.
There are three major paths for destroying foes: magic, shooting and, the most efficient, melee. Each path can destroy small units or downsize large units so that they become small. Sometimes, large units could be directly destroyed but it hardly ever happens anymore.
There are also some complementary ways of destroying foes made fleeing by the three major paths, or depleting all troops.

2.1.   Units may be destroyed at distance with magic.
Magic destroys at distance. It can destroy small units easily, and some spells can even destroy a third or half of a very large unit, no matter how large it is.

Magic is dangerous for the caster: miscasts can blow up a caster and a large part of the unit next to him. Also, some spells can take an unexpected path and hit friends and foe alike.

Magic can fail: sometimes, winds of magic are not there, sometimes the spell is not cast, or is dispelled. Sometimes there is no legitimate target. Finally, spell casters are usually poor combatants and die very easily to melee, shooting and magic (the opponent’s and their own). Also, magic is limited by the pool of dice, no matter how many wizards are there. Finally, you just may fail to roll the destructive spells you wish.

Overall, magic is very powerful and too good to discard, but very unreliable. Don’t plan to win on magic only.
The best balance must be found for getting reliably the spells you want (this can be done by taking a total of 6 levels in the same Lore), for getting additional Power Dice and for placing the magic user, either inside a unit large enough to protect him and sustain hismiscast, or away from dangers.

2.2.   Units may be destroyed with shooting.
Shooting destroys at distance. Shooting is easy to access at. Most shooters are core troops, and special slot template warmachines can now be taken three same at a time (which is good for Empire or Dwarfs alike).

BS shooting can destroy small units easily. However, the amount of BS shooting required to destroy significant parts of large units is unreasonable. Also, you cannot shoot at units in melee.
BS Shooting presents no danger for the shooter. It is the only 0 risk way to destroy anything.
BS shooting is quite weak, as it often fails to hit due to diverse covers and circumstances. Lots of shots are required to compensate for that. Once it hits, it still need to wound and pass the armour save. Overall, the reliability of shooting increases just with the amount of shooting you can bring. But it is never enough to win games.

Template Warmachines can destroy big parts of large units. However, they have a tendency to self blow up.

Overall, Shooting is more reliable than magic. It is useful to get rid of small opponents, especially if they are difficult to catch.

2.3.   Units may be destroyed in melee by being wiped out.
Melee destroys in contact. This means that you need first to achieve contact. This is not always as obvious as said, as the opponent may refuse to get in contact, or may send the units you don’t wish to confront.

Contrary to magic and shooting, most units are able to dish out some damage in melee, so this is very easy to access.
Melee is probably the most effective way to destroy units. Indeed, melee destruction happens both in your turn and in your opponent’s turn, i.e. twice as often as magic or shooting. Also, you can get more kills with a large frontage, and there are many ways to deliver a higher or more effective amount of hits. This is why the bloodiest destructions happen in melee.

However, the most painful drawback is that both opponents suffer from melee. It is not risk-free, contrary to shooting.

There are two moments in a melee: the charging round and the successive rounds.

In the charging round, units benefit from several bonuses: chariots have impacts; flails, morning stars, lances & spears work better; hatred allows for rerolls. Often, breath weapons are used during the first turn.
This is why melee is often lethal in the first round for small units, which can be completely wiped out.
However, no matter how severe the first round is for them, large units usually survive the first round of combat.

In successive rounds, the initial push has stalled: some weapons don’t work as well, hatred has passed over, often champions have been KIA, possibly some characters are KIA as well. Maybe the depleted rear ranks don’t get as many support attacks either.
Anyhow, it is in the long run that large units are defeated, because the more they test their Ld, the more they may fail it; and in the long run, they become small units.

In order to be effective in melee, you want units which deal lots of damage, which resist taking damage and have many members in case things turned bad for the ones in contact.
Increasing the damage you deal can be done with the help of fighting characters. Dealing more damage and/or resisting damage can be done with magic.

2.4.   Units may be destroyed in melee by loosing a break test and being caught (p.56).
The losing side may try to escape from the melee with a break test.
If it does (failing the break test), it risks to be caught (>50% chances in average) and totally destroyed on the spot, which is very good for the winner.
If it manages to escape however (<50% chances in average), no VP has been gained for the fleeing unit (except 25pts for the pennant), which is very bad for the winner.

From the winner’s point of view, if the loser was an extremely large unit, it is beneficial to get a chance to destroy it on the spot rather than having to wait for many more turns of melee, during which the winner will keep losing troops and is vulnerable to a rescue attempt.
From the loser’s point of view, if the loser was losing heavily each round and had only few models left, it can be a relief to get a chance to escape and concede nothing (except the pennant’s 25 pts)… unless the loser was purposely sent to be sacrificed in order to get another unit to charge the winning unit, or in order to prevent that dangerous unit to threaten the rest of the army.

Overall, the steadfast rule helps a lot the loser: as long as he has more ranks than the winner, he has great chances to avoid total destruction for now; once he has lost so much that he has less ranks than the winner, he has a chance to escape. To escape becomes certain if the winner remains busy with another unit (a tar pit).

Small sacrificial units, underdog units, tar pits are helped a lot if they are stubborn (or better, unbreakable).
All units benefit from a high Ld (either from the unit or from the general’s proximity), and if you can reroll the Ld test (BSB presence at 12”).

This mere fact increases the value of the general and the BSB, besides the 100 VPs that they can concede in addition to their pts value. For that reason, the general and the BSB are probably the two most important models in your army (and in your opponent’s army as well).

It is possible to increase the chances to catch a fleeing unit: you need one (or, better, several) quick unit to participate to the combat (flyer, cavalry, chariot): they run faster.

2.5.    Fleeing units are destroyed if any opponent charges them (triggering a flee reaction) and reaches them.
A fleeing unit is very vulnerable. No matter how large it is, if there is but a single Harpy charging it and catching it, it will be destroyed.
It is therefore sound, when you fight a large melee, to put a quick light unit (pistolier...) in the likely path of the would-be fleeing unit, in case it managed to escape. This role is called scavenger.

2.6.   Successive charges may push-push the fleeing unit off the table:
Even if someone declares a highly unlikely charge at maximum charge range (p.16), the fleeing unit must flee again and immediately make its fleeing move.
It can be done several times in a row: the fleeing unit may be charged again by another unit (p.18 ).
You can do it again as many times as you wish, as long as you have new units to declare a charge.
As the fleeing move has to be in the opposite direction from the charge, you can try to push-push the fleeing unit either in a position where you’ll catch it, or off the table. Anyway, it is likely not to be threatening anymore for a while, being pushed off so far from the action.
In order to be able to do that, again, it is useful to have positioned small units of fast cavalry in strategic points.

2.7.   Fleeing units may naturally fail to rally and move off the table.
To rally is easy: a Ld test, with a bonus if they have a musician. For that reason, a muso is very useful in any unit, let alone that it also allows a swift reform (p.95). Furthermore, the Ld of the general can be used, and the BSB allows to reroll that. One more reason to stress the importance of a general and a BSB.
To be noted that there is one Death spell (#3) which lowers Ld.
Besides that spell or keeping opponent’s general & BSB at distance (killing them is fine, too), there is little you can do to force the opponent to get off the table. As the fleeing direction is straight ahead, you better have tried to make them flee towards the nearest table edge.
Still, there is a way to force them out: as they cannot stop on one of your units, they will have to move across it. If doing so makes them touch the table edge, they're gone!

2.8.    Fleeing units suffer additional damage when fleeing through impassable terrain.
Buildings are impassable; so are opponent’s troops. Chariots, suffering D6 wounds, could be destroyed by having to pass through an opponent.
This is a job for fast cavalry. It will probably not destroy the fleeing unit (save a chariot), but depleting it a little bit may help, in case it would rally later.

2.9.   Some units, even not fleeing, suffer a few casualties when moving fast (but not with normal move) across most terrain.
-   cavalry, monstrous cavalry and (moreover) chariots across anything but hills,
-   flyers starting or ending in a forest,
-   all troops save skirmishers across marshes,
-   all troops moving across specific terrain (Hills: Scree Slope or Temple of Skulls p.118, Forests: Blood Forest or Venom Thicket or Wildwood p.119, Rivers: Boiling Flood, Necrotic Ooze, Raging Torrent and River of Light p.120, Marshes: Mist-Wreathed Swamp p.121, Monuments: Sinister Statue p.125, Buildings: Haunted Mansion p.130).
It seems not practical to build this as a strategy, because you have very little control on the terrain.
But that is one more way units get causalties.

3.   Resisting destruction.
The first way to resist destruction is to avoid it altogether:
-   Dispel magic; kill the opposing wizards; stay out of range.
-   Kill the opposing shooters; stay out of range.
-   Delay the opposing warriors; stay out of charge range.

Another way to resist destruction is to have more models in the unit in the first place (when you select the army).
It will withstand more magic, more shooting, it will be more easily steadfast in melee, and terrain casualties will not be dramatic.
However, a large unit is the best target for mass-killing spells and for template weapons. Also, as it is cumbersome, it is difficult for it to avoid combat. Finally, even if it is tough to destroy, when it happens, the unit concedes many VPs.

Another way to resist destruction is to make the unit tougher.
Some units are more resistant than others, thanks to a better armour, better Toughness or specific rule such as being ethereal, regeneration or being raised back.
The unit can be further hardened with some magic items, giving it magic resistance, a specific antishooting property or a better behaviour in melee. These magic items must be borne by a character or, sometimes, by a hero or a pennant bearer.
Many spells can harden up a unit as well.
All these unit’s improvements exist in limited supply. This also leads to increasing the size of the units, so that a unit’s improvement benefits the largest portion of the army.

When you cumulate several improvements into a single, very large unit, you get a Death Star. A DS is very difficult to destroy to the last man by magic or in melee. Shooting is insignificant, unless in extreme amounts. Ordinary melee units have high chances to get destroyed on the spot when making contact.
Facing a Death Star, you can oppose another Death Star and hope for the best. You can also take advantage that it is dangerous only in melee, and avoid it while depleting it as much as you can with magic and shooting, until it has been downgraded to a manageable size, but this is not always feasible: it requires the ability to deal mass damage and to snipe characters who make that unit so difficult to deal with.

A more original way to resist destruction is to multiply the number of units (it is called MSU – Many Small Units). Each of the units is vulnerable and can easily be destroyed by magic, shooting or melee. However, the opponent may find it very hard to catch and destroy them all, especially if he is light on shooters, casters and fast tough hunters. Nevertheless, small units find it difficult themselves to destroy very large units. As these units cannot all benefit from the improvements brought by magic items and scrolls, they rely more on their mobility, exploiting the terrain to get a cover, or keeping at bay.
This tactics can work with several units able to deal damage at distance, a few sacrificial units used to slow down the opponent, and a few mobile tough units used to chase opponent’s mobile units & shooters.
The alternative is to have many small units effective in melee: if they charge simultaneously a large opposing unit, they will very quickly slim it to bare bones. This variant is called MSE (Many Small Elites).

You need also to mitigate destruction when it is not finalized.
As long as 1 model survives (even fleeing), the unit is not destroyed.
As long as either the character or the mount keeps 1 wound, the unit is not destroyed and neither concedes any VP.
If one of your unit happens to have been depleted to the point of not being useful anymore, its most important task becomes just to survive, in order to deny VPs. First it has to rally (once more with the help of the general and the BSB), then it needs to find a hideout somewhere and wait till the end of the game, hoping not to draw attention.
Reversely, you need scavengers to hunt down those few survivors who deny your legitimate VPs.

« Last Edit: July 31, 2012, 02:35:36 PM by Calisson »

Offline Calisson

  • Bar Brawlers
  • Members
  • Posts: 738
  • From Druchii.net
Re: Tacticas for W-E: Building Balanced Lists & War Preparation
« Reply #7 on: July 31, 2012, 02:30:19 PM »

4.   Army components.
A beginner’s way to build an army could be to select individual units, and let each of them kill as much as they can before being killed themselves. Units “paying back their cost” deserve the right to remain in the army, the other ones are shelved.

There are better ways.

As we have seen, you can find in an army many units specialized in some specific tasks:

- The General is mandatory. He has a 100VP bounty on his head. His role is to help pass Ld tests.
- General’s escort: One sturdy unit must protect the general. Alternatively, the general may be mobile enough not to need any other escort (well, the Dragon is the escort). You can take lone wolf characters: kitted with options to survive and take on specific roles. Examples are the Druchii 'lone guard at the gate' build or a wood elf alter kindred Highborn.

- The BSB role is to help pass all Ld tests. He has also a bounty on his head and is so valuable for his rerolls that he is probably the most important target. He participates to the number of standards required in scenario #4.
- BSB’s escort: One sturdy unit must protect the BSB, all the more that he is so important. However, a mount may become this escort (Pegasus).

- Magic-users can be used to directly destroy foes (either large or small units). They are also used to augment our units and to hex opposing units. They are very useful to dispel opponent’s magic.
- Babysitters: Magic-users are vulnerable. They need either a resistant babysitting unit or a high mobility. As magic works at distance, the babysitter needs mostly to resist distant attacks, but also quick charger’s attacks.

- Small shooting units are useful to destroy at distance small units, like mobile magic-users, warmachine hunters, small elite troops, scavengers.
- Large shooting units and template warmachines are useful to reduce the size of large infantry units and destroy other warmachines.

- Warmachine hunters are quick light units, designed to destroy a light unit in melee. Their role is to destroy quickly warmachines. They are useful to destroy small shooting units, too. They are vulnerable so several of them are needed. They are also useful as scavengers to chase down already fleeing units, and to kill last survivors of units which have rallied and now hide away in order to deny VPs.
- Fast Heavy units are usually too expensive to constitute large units. However, they are valuable to kill a lot and receive little punishment. They are used to downsize large units in melee. They can be used to destroy warmachine hunters. They are excellent on the charge, but often, they don’t behave as well in successive rounds of melee. They are excellent to destroy warmachine hunters and light troops. Some fast heavy units require a character: ridden monsters such as dragons.

- Small Elite units are designed to kill a lot of foes, at the cost of being killed themselves. They are used to downsize quickly the opposing unit, either in successive waves or, better, in a simultaneous charge. What they lack in rank bonus is compensated by many charge bonuses, plus side charging. They are vulnerable so several of them are to be taken simultaneously.
- Tar pits are designed to pin down opponents into a prolonged melee. The opponent is neutralized in the process. Tar pits are normally sacrificial units. They can be called speed bumpers if they are easily destroyed.

- Large melee units are designed to survive a prolonged melee, and destroy lots of opponents in the process.

- Death Stars combine the fact of being large and heavy (or elite), with many improvements brought by several characters. There are at least 3 fighting and resistant characters in a death star, in order to allow supportive magic-users to remain safe in the second rank.

- Fighting characters in large units are designed to enhance a large unit, with their magic objects, by killing lots of R&F, or killing opposing characters (possibly in a challenge but not necessarily). Their usefulness lasts only as long as they survive, so either it is a quick use (such as assassinate a more precious character), or they need to be very resistant themselves.
- Assassins are characters who have the task to kill individuals (General, BSB, Wizards, magic-objects bearers). They could be themselves Wizards using sniping spells, or fighters selecting their target in melee, or real assassins.

- Sniper shooters have the same task. They need a shooting special rule (cannons, Empire’s Hochland).
- A suicide squad is a small sacrificial unit which role is to charge an opposing unit in order to kill a specific character inside it.

- A Flanker’s role is to cancel the opposing rank bonus. It requires two surviving ranks of 5. It can be either a rather large infantry unit or a sturdy medium unit of heavy cavalry. This role is not taken very often, as it does not cancel steadfast.
- Tower guard: At least one infantry unit should be able to win scenario #6.
- Some units may have other specialized role, such as to trigger fanatics...

So, there are many units which need not to kill anything directly to make them useful.
So much for the “return on investment”.

5.   Combining roles.
There is no way to have all kind of units mentioned above in an army of an usual size.
You have to make choices.
You can select to regroup roles as you can.
You can also select to skip some roles you can afford not to take.


If the general is a Lord, he must wear the best armours he can. In that case, he could well ride a dragon and become a fast, tough unit. Or he could wear a few magic objects and help the unit he is in, to be more lethal.

The General must be protected. Wizards must be protected. If your General is a Wizard, only one protection is required.

Wizards act at distance and must be protected. One usual babysitter is a shooting unit, which acts at distance as well and can repel light fast hunters.

The unit sheltering the general may get the BSB and FC in the front rank. Having no more room in the first rank, a Wizard joining such unit will be entitled to go in the second rank and be less vulnerable to the first round of melee. This transforms the General’s escort in a Death Star.

Fast heavy units make outstanding warmachine hunters of their own, albeit more expensive.

Small Elite units can make good tar pits, if necessary, or suicide squads.

6.   The style of an army.
The most important thing to know is to decide how you are going to win, i.e. to kill and resist being killed.

You can kill the opponent with distant attacks (magic & shooting), with prolonged fights ( mass units), with concentrated fights (Many Small Elites MSE ), or with a combination of these ( balanced army).

You can resist the opponent with massive units, with many targets (MSU) or with a highly evasive army. In all cases, you’ll need support units to get rid of opposing support units.

Here below are varied examples of how an army could be built. Not all of them are as easy to master. You’ll have to determine, with practice, which style suits best you and your usual opponents.

-   Magic & Shooting – evasive.
-   Magic & Shooting – MSU.
-   Magic & Shooting – masses.
-   Melee with masses.
-   Single Über-unit.
-   Melee with MSE.
-   Melee and Mobility.
-   Balanced with masses.
-   Balanced mobile.

7.   Mandatory units.

- All armies need a general. He needs not to be a Lord, though; a mage can do the job.

- All armies should take a BSB. The ability to reroll all Ld test is invaluable. This BSB could ideally be in a unit (he requires a good armour), or mobile Master (Pegasus).

- All armies should get at least one Wizard. It is too vital to stop the opponent’s magic, and magic is too good to be discarded.

- All armies need a few agile troops (Fast cavalry, Pegasus) as warmachine hunters and scavengers. Alternatively, fast tough units could do the job (Dragon).

- All armies benefit from some shooting, in order to get rid of opponent’s agile troops. Alternatively, fast tough units could do the job.

8. First Lessons learned.
This was added after a couple of games.

8th ed is more about combining buffs into a unit.
Buffs come from:
- magic (unit's buff, also hexing the opponent),
- pennants,
- characters (Ld, magic objects, removing opponent's buffs along with their characters),
- supporting units (flank charges, monster stomp, COB, reducing the opponent with shooting early in the game...),
- terrain! often forgotten, but buildings change units' behaviour, rivers & forests remove steadfast, many terrain become dangerous if you charge across, not forgetting some fancy effects... There is some control over the terrain: you choose where to place half of it.
All these buffs combined can turn a rather mediocre unit into a freightening killing machine, and a medium/large elite unit to a win-me-all-my-games unit.

Army building.
As a result:
- You're incited to get 2-3 large units, which will resist longer and concentrate the buffs.
- The alternative is to get MSU, if you can concentrate the buffs on any unit of your choice. Harder but playable and more fun.
- You're incited to get some medium magic (PD are given anyway) rather than all-magic or no-magic. 8th edition magic is great fun! Powerful (win hard or loose hard).
- Characters are so important that some players go 50% characters (wrongly, because it's troops who win the game). The BSB and the General have a very high bounty on their head, often killing them = winning the game, especially with some scenarios.
- BS shooting units are much less useful, because the main units are so large and you get no VP for 1/2 units anymore.
- Template shooting/magic units are more useful, for the same reason (except against MSU).
- Light support units are less required in the main melee; they remain very useful to get rid of opponent's support units (template shooting) and to act around melee (scavenge). As they are less of them, this further reduces the importance of BS shooting.

The scenarios are very important. You have to prepare your army in anticipation for any of the 6 scenarios. They reinforce or decrease the relative importance of what is said just above. As a result, balanced, adaptable armies are better than rock/paper/scissor armies.

Very fun games.
Playing a strong alliance vs a weak alliance is very unbalanced just because of magic, so I'd recommend either playing only weak alliances on both sides, or the strong alliance agrees not to go magic-heavy.

That’s all, Mates.

Offline Calisson

  • Bar Brawlers
  • Members
  • Posts: 738
  • From Druchii.net
Re: Tacticas for W-E: Building Balanced Lists & War Preparation
« Reply #8 on: July 31, 2012, 03:06:54 PM »
Hi again.
This is another article I wrote about buffing ordinary troops:
R&F superheroes - Improve the masses

In a moment of Soviet nostalgia, I had a thought that WHFB is not a game for the ruling class only, but proletarian Rank & File deserve the best as well!

In this sub-thread, I am going to examine what can be done to transform a unit, in order to make it a killing machine or a perfect tar pit (or both).

The main interest of this sub-thread is not the originality, but to be exhaustive. At present, the information is scattered throughout the rulebook. Here, it will be sorted and summarized.

I’ll consider only improvements which apply to whole units, applicable to R&F, not only on champions or characters, although they will benefit from similar improvements themselves.
These improvements may come from a unit’s special rule, or from the influence of a champion or character nearby or within the unit, including spells. I include in my analysis spells from all Lores available to Empire, and magic-objects coming from the BRB. Please complement with the objects found in our army book.

I’ll use the following references and abbreviations:
(X nn) = item of type “X”, costing nn pts.
(Wnn) = weapon, (Ann) = armour, (Tnn) = talisman, (Snn) = standard, (scroll nn) = scroll, (Enn) = enchanted.
Lore Y #n = spell number n; if n=0, it is the signature spell.
The name of the equipment is usually shortened or skipped altogether. With the category and the pts value, it is easy to find what I am referring at, even with a book translated in other languages than English (like mine).
I have to admit that the army lists, nowadays, are difficult to read with strange names of magic objects.

In order to get a real death star (or at least to get closer to it), you want a unit which charges reliably, hits early repetitively and accurately, resisting fear, wounding a lot, piercing armours, cancelling regeneration.
You also want your unit to survive melee, for which it needs to resist hits, to avoid wounds, to save them, ward save or regenerate.
You want a guarantee that the combat resolution tilts towards your side, or at minimum that you have little chance to loose your break test.
Finally, you want your unit to have survived so far distant attacks, resisting magic and shooting. As specific anti-flyers buffs are available, I’ll examine them as well.
Let’s see each of these aspects, and how to improve them.

1.   Charge further.
Cavalry and chariots are fast on the charge, but they desperately need the charge to get their full efficiency.
Infantry is slow and could benefit from getting faster.
Flyers are naturally fast but who wishes not to be faster?
It is possible to increase the likelihood to get the charge with one of the following standards:

(S55) Reroll charge: requires a BSB, useful for units who need the charge.
There are also several useful banners available for our units from our army book.

(S50) Strider: requires a BSB. It is of little use for infantry.

(S15) +1M: low cost, more useful for slow units.

Light #6 (double M, ASF, +1att). However, you know about this spell before your own movement phase, so you can act accordingly.
Also, note that Heavens #2 (pushes back D3+1”) may prevent a countercharge.

2.   Faster hits.
As the opponent will step in and retaliate, striking first is meaningful only if one or both units are small sized.

Shadow #0 (opponent’s WS, BS, I, M reduced) can help our troops to hit first.

Light #2 which can give I10 WS10 to a whole unit.
Light #6 (double M, ASF, +1att).

3.   More hits.
Units with only one attack dream to double their efficiency with a second one.

Light #6 (double M, ASF, +1att). Uh? It is already the third time that I mention that spell. Seems powerful.

4.   Accurate hits.
Yes, we can make our hits more accurate.

Some spells can make the task of our fighters easier.
Metal #5 (opponent has -1WS).
Shadow #0 (opponent’s WS, BS, I, M reduced D3).
Light #2 (I10 WS10).
Heavens #1 (reroll hit, wounds & save of 1).

5.   Fear/Terror/ITP.
A failed Ld test may influence a lot a combat: someone not controlling his fear becomes WS1 and requires now 5+ to hit pretty much anything; it will be hit on 3+.

(S50) Terror banner. This banner requires a BSB. The benefit depends on the low Ld of the enemy, and the enemy has plenty of ways to mitigate that effect.

Death #1 (Fear/Terror) allows to make one more unit fearful.

Also, don’t forget that anybody wielding flaming weapons causes fear to war beasts, cavalry & chariots. See §8.

Resisting fear/terror is achieved with ITP.

6.   Wounding hits.
Hitting the target is not enough. We need to wound it.
Poison helps (autowound).
Otherwise, there are three ways to increase wounds: increase S (which also helps piercing armours); rerolling wounds; reducing the opponent’s T.

A high S is obtained by getting the charge for Cavalry.

Shadow #6 (use Ld instead of S) is a highly interesting spell, when we benefit from a high Ld.
Beast #0 (unit +1S+1T).

Flaming attacks allow to reroll wounds in buildings. Occasional, but not to be forgotten.
Heavens #1 (reroll hit, wounds & save of 1).

We have access to two ways or reducing the opponent’s T:
Shadow #3 (reduces T by D3, RIP).
Death #3 (-1S -1T).

7.   Armour piercing hits.
(S45) AP. Remember that this banner provides an AP which works only in melee.

Metal #2 makes all attacks AP, including shooting (contrary to standards), in addition to getting +1 to hit.
Metal #5 reduces AS, which is like AP (and it reduces the BS and WS of the opponent, too).
Metal #1 lowers the AS, which is like getting AP.
Heavens #3 (reroll hit, wounds & save of 6).

8.   Flames.
Flaming attacks are useful for four reasons:
-   Regeneration, cancelled during that turn
-   fear to cavalry/chariots/war beasts
-   flammable targets (like some Woody trees)
-   attacks against buildings (rerolls to wound). Remember, there is a scenario with a tower!

Many units can take a cheap standard:
(S10) Flaming.

The unit can get flaming attacks with Fire #2 (also granting +1 to hit). Best given to shooters.
Lore of Fire #0,1,2,3,4,5,6. (E25) Ring of fireball.
Lore of Metal #0,4,6.
Light #0

9.   Resisting hits & wounds.
Many spells help to resist hits & wounds by reducing the opponent’s performance:
Shadow #0 (WS, BS, I, M reduced).
Shadow #2 (S reduced, RIP).
Death #3 (-1S -1T)
Beast #0 (unit +1S+1T). Beast #4 (-1 to hit).
Light #1 (-1 to hit).
Life #2 (+2T).
Heavens #0 (-1 to hit & Ld). Heavens #3 (reroll hit, wounds & save of 6).

10.   Saving wounds.
Not all wounds are fatal. Armour saves lives.
Of course, you can replace dead bodies with more bodies. This is the best way to go with cheap troops. It reaches its limits quicker for more expensive ones and is hardly available for the more expensive ones.

We can improve that further:
Metal #3 (scaly 5+save to units) will improve armour saves.
The best to aim at is the range 2+ armour save, which effect is to triple the amount of S3 hits necessary to kill the unit. Next is the range 3+, for which the S3 hits necessary are doubled. In the range 4+ and 5+, the enemy needs 1.7 or 1.5 more hits, it is not that effective.
If you intend to run a large unit of 4+ troops, I’d highly recommend the use of that spell.

There's also defensive Heavens #1 (reroll hit, wounds & save of 1) and offensive Heavens #3 (reroll hit, wounds & save of 6).
And Life #5 (regrowth of a unit), and the Life special effect (restoring wounds).

11.   Combat resolution.
At the end of the combat, you want to be on the winning side.
Each side endeavours to get the highest Active Combat Resolution (kills/challenge), Static CR (Ranks, Standard/ BSB) and Manoeuvre CR (charge/side/rear/hill – this is often included in SCR).

However, in the 8th edition, with the Steadfast rule and the ability to use the General’s Ld for stubborn rolls, CR matters much less. Nowadays, a unit failing its break test has become a rare sight. At least, ACR means that you have reduced the opposing unit.

How to get more ACR has been dealt with in detail, in most § above.

As long as you kill enough more opponents than they kill back, or have a higher SCR, your opponent will take the risk of loosing his break test. However, sometimes he brings much more SCR than you (especially if you play MSU), and sometimes the ACR is not there (especially after hatred is lost and charging bonus is lost too).
It is time to start taking measures to pass your break test. This can be planned also on purpose, using one unit as tar pit while the rest of the army positions itself for the final kill.

Steadfast rule requires that you had more ranks than the largest enemy unit. One way to achieve that is to reduce sufficiently the opponent.
Of course, if you’re stubborn naturally (Greatswords, Archers in woods), you don’t need steadfast.
(E35) Crown of stubbornness let one more unit become stubborn. This item allows units to become a tar pit of they own.

12.   Ld test.
Stubborn or not, if you lose a melee, you end up in relying on passing a Ld test.
This event can be helped with two banners, cheap enough to be available for most units:
(S15) +1Ld (not using general’s Ld), useful for BG and even more for COK who test more often, if your general is a sorceress.
(S5) Reroll once Ld. Very cheap.

Light #3 (passes all Ld). Handy.

We can also “help” the opponent to fail a Ld test:
Death #4 (RIP, -3 Ld)
Heavens #0 (-1 to hit & Ld).

To be mentioned in addition, as we mention Ld tests, there are some spells which force a panic test if one casualty is suffered:
Fire #3 (burning head).

13.   Massive magic damage.
If your unit is not quickly engaged in close combat, it will face not only normal shooting but also DD and MM.
Some spells are true weapons of mass destruction, either because they potentially can destroy all R&F models (and characters failing their “Look Out, Sir” roll), or because they use a template to determine their victims. I’ll not consider MM as mass destruction, unless it can manage to deal more than 6 autohits.
Note that template spells are not massive killers against units inside buildings, and skirmishers or units with wide bases resist them better.

Some genocide spells threaten whole units, in which all models risk to die:
Fire #5 (all models suffer S4 if moving)
Metal #6 (all models have 2/6 chances to die, no WS)
Life #6 (all models test S or die, no WS).

Templates spell are real weapons of massive destruction:
Fire #6 (small/large template, S4)
Shadows #5 (small/large template, I test or die, no WS)
Death #6 (small/large template, I test or die, no WS)
Heavens #5 (comet, all units within 2D6” suffer 2D6+m hits, S4+m)

Milder spells still can cause havoc, especially if used repetitively:
Fire #0 (1D6 or 2D6 or 3D6, S4 MM)
Fire #1 (each unit in contacts suffers 2D6, S4)
Fire #4 (D3 per rank, S4)
Metal #0 (2D6)
Light #5 (2D6, S4)
Beasts #1 (2D6, S2)

14.   Resisting magic damage.
Magic resistance provides (or improves) a ward save against DD and MM.
Except for the Standard of MR1, any magic resistance requires a character wearing either armour or talisman.
Remember that MR does not stack, although it adds to the ward save.

(A45) MR3. MR3 increases the amount of MM or DD required to kill a unit by 100%.
(A30) MR2. MR2 increases the amount of MM or DD required to kill a unit by 50%.
(A20) / (T15) MR1. MR1 merely increases the amount of MM or DD required to kill a unit by 20%.
(S15) MR1. A mere standard allows a pennant bearer to provide MR1.

You can pick up the MR you wish, noting that the cost/efficiency ratio is much better at MR3 than MR1.

(scroll 15) The unique Scroll of shielding (WS4+ against magic) is the only way to resist magic fire.

15.   Massive shooting damage.
Shooting can affect masses:
Breath weapons and, above all, warmachines, especially those which use the large template (21 models can be hit) and even the small template (up to 16 models can be hit).
Cannons and bolt throwers can hardly kill more than 5 models in a shot, I don’t consider that mass shooting.
Note that template weapons are not massive killers against units inside buildings, and skirmishers or units with wide bases resist them better.

A very large unit of shooters could well deliver a massive amount of shots. I’d consider it mass shooting only if effective hits are more than 10, which requires usually more than 20 shooters.

16.   Resisting shooting.
Two specific items can help whole units against shooting.
(E5) Unit’s 6+WS against warmachines. It is very cost-effective.

In addition, if we know who may shoot at us, we can make sure they become ineffective:
Shadow #0 (WS, BS, I, M reduced D3) can make one shooting unit useless.
Metal #5 (-1 to WS, BS and AS) is just equivalent to providing a light cover.
Beasts #4 (-1 to hit), just equivalent to providing a light cover.
Light #1 (-1 to hit), 4+ to hit for non-WS shots.
Heavens #3 (reroll hit, wounds & save of 6), painful for us at long distance.

17.   Resisting flyers.
Dragons and BT are fearsome. If these are difficult for you to deal with, then a standard and an item can help:
(S5) Fear against flyers. A good way to resist the terror caused by many flyers.
(E35) Featherfoe (flyers reroll to hit unit). Very effective to combat flying monsters (and their rider).
Heavens special effect anti-flyers (#0,2,3,4,6).

18.   Cumulating effects
You can reinforce the strengths of your unit, compensate for a weakness, or tailor a specific unit to your needs.

Here below is a worksheet summarizing what we have just seen.
It is useful to have it in a single view, because:
-   you can take only 1 standard in a unit, or 2 with the unique BSB;
-   each character in the unit may take a single item of each category;
-   in order to be certain to get a specific spell, you better get 2 wizards mastering the same Lore.
If you intend to build up a single über-unit-o-doom death star, try to pick up one of each effects listed above, to boost a unit which preferably benefits naturally from some of the effects.
After that, you’ll need to protect your characters from the opponent’s attention, but that is another story.

_ S Standard
_ _ W Weapon
_ _ _ A Armour
_ _ _ _ T Talisman
_ _ _ _ _ E Enchanted
_ _ _ _ _ _ Sc Scroll
_ _ _ _ _ _ __ __ Fr Fire Lore
_ _ _ _ _ _ __ __ __ Mt Metal Lore
_ _ _ _ _ _ __ __ __ __ Sh Shadows Lore
_ _ _ _ _ _ __ __ __ __ __ Dt Death Lore
_ _ _ _ _ _ __ __ __ __ __ __ Bs Beasts Lore
_ _ _ _ _ _ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ Lt Light Lore
_ _ _ _ _ _ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ Lf Life Lore
_ _ _ _ _ _ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ Hv Heavens Lore

_   S   _   _   _   _   __   __   __   __   __   __   __   __   Lt   __   Hv   __   Charge further   
_   S   _   _   _   _   __   __   __   __   __   Sh   __   __   Lt   __   __   __   Faster hits
_   S   _   _   _   _   __   __   __   __   __   __   __   __   Lt   __   __   __   More hits
_   _   _   _   _   _   __   __   __   __   Mt   Sh   __   __   Lt   __   Hv   __   Accurate hits
_   S   _   _   T   E   __   __   __   __   __   __   Dt   __   __   __   __   __   Fear/Terror/ITP
_   _   _   _   _   _   __   __   __   __   __   Sh   Dt   Bs   __   __   Hv   __   Wounding hits
_   S   _   _   _   _   __   __   __   __   Mt   __   __   __   __   __   Hv   __   Armour piercing hits
_   _   _   _   _   _   __   __   __   __   __   Sh   Dt   Bs   Lt   Lf   Hv   __   Resisting hits wounds
_   _   _   _   _   _   __   __   __   __   Mt   __   __   __   __   Lf   Hv   __   Saving wounds
_   S   _   _   _   E   __   __   __   __   __   __   __   __   Lt   __   Hv   __   Combat resolution
_   S   _   _   _   _   __   __   __   Fr   __   __   Dt   __   Lt   __   Hv   __   Ld test   
_   _   _   _   _   _   __   __   __   Fr   Mt   Sh   Dt   Bs   Lt   Lf   Hv   __   Massive magic damage   
_   S   _   A   T   _   Sc   __   __   __   __   __   __   __   __   __   __   __   Resisting magic damage   (Buildings, skirmishing)
_   _   _   _   _   E   __   __   __   __   __   __   __   __   __   __   __   __   Massive shooting   (Templates weapons, many shooters)
_   _   _   _   T   E   __   __   __   __   Mt   Sh   __   Bs   Lt   __   Hv   __   Resisting shooting   (Skirmishing)
_   S   _   _   _   E   __   __   __   __   __   __   __   __   __   __   Hv   __   Resisting flyers

That's all, Mates!

Offline Holy Hand Grenade

  • Moderator
  • Members
  • Posts: 2319
  • Never leave the Province without it...
Re: Tacticas for W-E: Building Balanced Lists & War Preparation
« Reply #9 on: August 02, 2012, 11:57:21 AM »
Calisson-  those are excellent posts.  Thank you so much for taking the time to include them here.   :::cheers:::

In addition to preparing other posts, I am spending some time on other Warhammer Forums looking for hidden gems.  I will post them as I find them.

Calisson commented to me that my original Balancing post was very "intellectual."  To help bring my ideas down to a practical level, and to provide you with ways to put them “into practice” I decided to add to the post an example of using the checklist and premises to create a 2,500 Empire infantry-based list.

A Checklist for Building a Balanced List using my Premises:

The following is an example army built following my guidelines.

The concept I have in mind for this example is:  strength by arms, support by shield.  I want to put decent Str units on the line to kill stuff and then protect them as well as I can via magic, buffs, and characters.

Step 1. Come up with a rough figure of total wounds of infantry.  Quality or quantity?  

I want to aim for the middle ground in both wounds and quality/quantity-  so I am thinking a rough estimate of 100 wounds and using Halberdiers and Greatswords on the line.

Step 2.  Start with a few unit types, sizes, detachments.  Sketch out how it would look on the battlefield.

I imagine two units sitting side by side, with some kind of mobile support on one side and a Stubborn detachment covering the other.  Sticking with my Griffon Formations, I plan to include some small archer detachments.

Starting with a rough draft of 50 Halbs, 35 Greatswords with a 15 Det of Halbs.  The last component will be IC Knights or Demis.

Step 3.  Think about how many components you want to form and what do you have so far.  What else fits your style to flush out all the components you need?

Already have 3 components, so the rest will be small support units, depending on what I can fit in.

Step 4.  Start thinking about formations.  What is going to work together?  How are you going to usually deploy what you have so far?

The two infantry blocks will work in combination, sharing the benefits of a Griffon Formation-like detachments.

The cavalry will be my disruption force.  Thinking about not going with static artillery (maybe a Helblaster up front)-  I don’t want to have to protect anything in the rear.

Step 5.  Add in support to make the components you have so far fully combat capable. 

With my defense support mindset, I am going to put in an AL in the GS with the Standard of Disp and a BSB for an awesome Ldr 10 re-rollable.  I added in a WP for the Halb unit.  No gear yet; I am going to add that last.  I added a Lvl 4 Mage and an archer bunker for him.

For detachments, I went with a 5 Archer detachment on the Halbs and added a 5 Archer detachment for the Greatswords to go with its 15 Halb detachment.

Looks like this so far:

Step 6.  Make sure you are going to meet Core requirements. 

Still lacking some Core.  I decided to go for a Warmachine-hunting, potentially deep threat harasser and put in 6 Inner Circle Knights, FC, and Banner of Swiftness.

Step 7.  Go back and make sure everything included so far fits the 5 premises.

Looking good so far:  I have spent 1629 points and I am over on Core at 637 points.  I have 2 infantry components so far and plan to add some more cavalry and a Steam Tank.

Step 8.  Fill up the rest of your points with the support that is still lacking or things you want to include.

I have Leadership and magic covered.  I gave the Wizard a Dispel Scroll and decided on Life Magic.  After adding a Luminark to run behind the infantry I think my defense support theme is solid.  Now for some more offense-  I added 4 Demigryphs, FC, with a Steel Standard, a Razor Banner to my GS, and a Steam Tank.

Step 9.  Attack your list thinking about every possible threat. 

Ranged isn’t great-  but I do have the Steam Cannon, the flaming nuke of the Luminark, and some Archers.  Monsters will have to be dealt with by the cannon, Lum spell, and tank grinding, if necessary.

Defense against hordes?  Dwellers will have to do.  Other than that, hordes will be dealt with in combat.  I should be able to manage a Deathstar, or an MSU-style list.

Magic Defense?  As good as I can get it.

Diveters?  Have plenty.

Speed?  I have the ICK, Demis (both with movement banners!), and Tank.  Plenty.

Deal with armor?  I added the Razor Banner to the Greatswords to improve my “strength by arms” concept.  These bad boys are going to rip up armoured opponents.

Deal with Flying?  Always a tough one but have plenty of chaff to keep my flanks protected.  Wizard should be able to skirmish around out of threat range too in the Archers.

Deal with Ethereal?  Got the Lum spell, but I added some mid-to-cheap magic weapons on some of my Heroes.  Best I can do.

Step 10.  Readjust as necessary and make final tweaks.

After adding in a bunch of magic items, I am still only at 2444.  Need to spend some more points!

I messed around adding some more troops to the GS and detachment…but didn’t like what I could squeeze in.  Sticking with my “defensive support” mindset I tossed a Crown of Command on my WP in the Halbs to make them Stubborn too.  Meh.  He would already be a target-  with that he would be a walking dead priest.

He would need to add be more defensive to make it worth it….aha!  I switched the AL in to the Halbs, put the WP in the GS, reworked the AL to give him some defense with the CoC.  For the last 10 points, I added a Standard into the Wizard bunker for one more banner for Blood and Glory (giving me a nasty 8pts for that scenario).

So…the end result.  I have 4 basic components I have formed.  I tried to max out the damage output by my troops by going with higher Str models.  I have some added mobility punch with Demis, ICK, and tank.  All my support is focused on protecting my offense-  by buffs and saves.

The List:  2499 points

49 Halberdiers  FC
          Arch Lector (Gen)  GW, AoMI, Dragonbane Gem, Crown of Command

          5 Archer Detachment

33 Greatswords  FC, Razor Banner
          Warrior Priest Dragonhelm
          Captain (BSB)  Sword of Might, Enchanted Shield, Luckstone, Ironcurse Icon
          15 Halberdier Detachment   
          5 Archer Detachment

10 Archers Musician, Standard Bearer
          Battle Wizard Lord Lvl 4 Life, Dispel Scroll 
6 Inner Circle Knights FC, Lances, Banner of Swiftness

4 Demigryph Knights FC, Lances, Steel Standard


Steam Tank

Step 11.  Use the army and whoop some ass.   

The beauty of the list (and most Empire armies) is that I can combine my components into different formations depending on the scenario, the terrain, and of course, my opponent.

For instance, I could split my mobile forces to each flank-  putting the Demis, STank, and ICK on the side where I think they will get the best match-ups my opponent is offering me.

I could split the cavalry, one on each side, and plop the STank down in between the two hordes…providing some staying power in the center of my line (which would also probably benefit from the Lum’s 6+ WS!)

Also-  I could go heavy on one flank-  forming a mobile mega-component that would pack a punch like so:

To add insult to injury, I could even put the Luminark in the mobile mix.  My troops would miss the 6+ WS, but against some opponents, my cav may need the love.

Parting Thoughts

This list is an “all-comers” list that I would feel comfortable taking into both friendly and competitive settings.

This list is just one example.  Starting with any theme, such as “strength by arms, support by shield” will help you build an army that stays focused until every last point is spent.

Using my (or your own) theoretical framework, and resources such as Calisson’s posts and others, can make your Empire army a force to be reckoned with!

HHG   :::cheers:::
If at first you don't succeed...you either don't have enough faith or you need to bring more explosives

HHG's TDG/TEG Dice Tracker