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I think crossbowmen are better due to that crucial extra range which may give you an extra round of shooting. Usually my xbows deal more damage than my handgunners anyday.
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Last edited by Skarsgard; January 27th, 2009 at 23:47.
The truth is that there is no "better" unit. Handguns are the unit of choice when something big and scary is headed your way, but when you need the extra range (say, against enemy archers, or for said first turn volley), then XBowmen really shine.
Both units are specialised to a degree, and getting the right unit to do the right job can make a lot of difference.
I prefer crossbows unless I am playing against a lot of cavalry. The extra range is crucial against other missile units with longbows.
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I was actually pondering this the other day. I had traditionally believed that crossbows were superior because their superior range was much more important than the additional armour penetration since it was applicable to all types of units. However, I had lately been felt disappointed with their cost/effectiveness (sure, they'll kill one or two models a turn but really will that make a difference as opposed say...flagellants). So I thought, wait, handgunners can take a champion that can be equipped with other guns, more importantly, a Hochland Longrifle. I theorized that should you take enough units of handgunners, you can wear down any hero/champion/important model while also creating panic tests to boot. Just got to figure out how well it will work out in conjunction with the rest of your army.
I prefare crossbow as the extra range means 1st turn volly's are possible.
On the other hand the abillity to take a champion with a hochland long rifle is quite deadly if multiple units take one. So it's down to opinion really.
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I find it depends on your opponent. If they have range on you, the Crossbows are quite good - against Wood Elves and Dark Elves, crossbows are great because of the extra range, and low requirement for Armour Piercing.
Against armies where killing characters is essential (VC, HE, TK) I find it better to take multiple units of Handgunners with an HLR - this was especially effective against the Tomb Kings and High Elves. Two units of Handgunners took out a Dragon Mage and its Dragon in one turn with a combination of HLR and Handguns.
And that's exactly the point, the handguns are more powerful but have less range. This makes xbowmen a better seperate unit choice, they can fire at longe range targets while the more shortranged handguns can do more damage to enemy units assaulting the parent unit!
This is why you almost never see crossbow detachements but a lot of handgunner attachements.
But as both handgunners and xbowmen have BS3 and both not mindbogglingly long ranges it really doesn't matter a great deal, it comes down to what you prefer, slightly weaker but longer range or slightly more killy and somewhat shorter range.
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