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Ok, coming from 40k, and looking at some of the lists, I'm having trouble wrapping my mind around some things.
1. Many people take minimum troops and max out on characters and specials/rare. In 40k it's not considered cool.
2. You make super Hq's. Spending sometimes more than a third of your points on multiple heros.
But how do you know how much is too much? WHen does your list become greasy, and how do you know how much to spend on upgrades and wargear?
I come from a way of playing where it is best to take alot of bodies, so it's hard to wrap my mine around the fact that a guy on a dragon, while cool, could ever be worth as much as 65 spearmen.
So is there a general rule about how much of my 2250 lit should be spent on "upgrades"
Say like command groups, items, banners and weapons.
Armies: Ultramarines 2nd Co.
(coming soon) Wood Elves for my final army.
Our lord nad hero choices are very fragile and overpriced, so if you max out on them you aren't being cheesy you are shooting yourself in the foot. A third of the points would be about average unless you want to go character minimizing like I do, and even then they are ~4-500.
A general rule for upgrades are as long as they are neccesary to make the character do what you want him to do. You should have a use in mind for what your characters are going to do, and if it is just add some kills it usually isn't worth it unless they support spearmen units. For example, you can make an archmage almost invincible by giving him a robe for ethereal and an item to make all magic attacks count as mundane, but then you simply have a invincible bubble floating around the battlefield not able to do much because all his points are in defence. Same with nobles/princes, don't fill them up with magic armour and ward saves because essentially they will still die to most other combat characters since they are t3 and weak, and will have no points left for support or killy items.
As for units, musicians are good for basically every unit even if to do nothing else but negate the opponent's inevitable one. They are the first thing I drop if I am trying to squeeze a few more points in though. Standards on big units, so all infantry except support (no command at all ever on archers) units and big units of heavy cavalry, but not on reavers or a unit of 5 or even 6 helms/princes. I am leaning more and more away from unit champions, all they give you is an extra attack. WHFB is more about static combat res and chasing down your opponent than killing everything in your path. For Swordmasters, WL and DP who are meant to kill and have little static combat res, take one. If a unit has a character in it, take a unit champ too to protect him from tough challenges etc. Otherwise don't bother.
Hope that helps.
strewart had some very good comments. Every standard that the enemy captures in close combat is worth 100 points or two hundred if it is a BSB. Therefore every upgrade to standard bearer should be thought of carefully. Especially with the concern of what is the purpose of the banner you are giving them.
There is a lot of fear causing units out there so banner of lion courage to your anvil unit is a must. Keeps them from breaking when outnumbered by a fear causer.
Banner of E allows you to ignore forest and makes you moving easier. This is great with flanking units or some people run it on their dragon princes.
Banner of Arcane protection is nice and cheap. Giving mr2 is worth it.
Banner of sorcery is a must if you have a fourth level archmage. At its cost you can not put it in a core unit. My daughter did run her in a unit of 7 swordmasters. But it works better in a better special anvil unit like whitelions or PG.
Amulet of light makes the entire units attacks magical and there are some units out there that require that, undead. Experiment on the gaming board is the final test.
I hope this helped and feel free to pm me if you have any questions. I have been playing for slightly over 6 months and generally lose because of mistakes not my army lists. Facing and moving are very much more important in fantasy than 40K. Using magic is another thing that is greatly different.
Our characters are NOT overpriced, and are in fact very cheap (check out the WoC book for overpriced chars). They are fragile only in that they have T3... but there are many excellent magic items for defense. Sterwart did mention one of my favorite defensive mage combos, and there are very many nice combos for nobles/princes to keep them alive as well. These combos are large point investments, but our heroes/lord with greatswords and our mages with peripheral items like Banner of Sorcery still shine offensively, even when stacked defensively. If you stack our prince up on armor and ward saves, they will NOT die to other enemy heroes, they will in fact eat their face with a mundane greatsword.
As for unit builds:
Musicians: I agree. Every unit.
Champions: Use in every unit that only has 1A, an additional attack here is nice. Use in every unit with a hero, the champion can take challenges that the hero wants to avoid. Use in every unit that allows the champ to take items AND you have an item you want the unit to have (Gem of Courage, for example, is very nice on the psych-prone SMs). In total, this will end up being about 2/3 of your units.
Standards: The VP that these are worth may initially seem a drawback, and it is, but it is simply a motivation to use your army more effectively. With an army like HE, you will have a small number of units, and they should only be getting into fights they will win... you shouldn't be losing entire units in CC (which is the only way your opponent can 'grab' your banner). As such, use whatever standards you think you need. Want some more magic? Sorcery. Want some psych protection? Lion or Balance. Etc, etc. Use them where you need them, and put them predominantly on bigger units... I'll agree with sterwart there.
WHFB is not about static combat res... for the most part, a fully stacked static res unit will likely only generate five extra (banner/outnumber/3ranks). If your unit (and in HE you have ASF, so this is easy) can kill 4 guys and have a banner, you at least tie (their front rank is pretty much dead, no attacks back). 12 SMs (6 front) will beat a block of 30 core in CC. Not just more kills, they will beat them in CR too. So will 15 (5 front 2 ranks) PG. So will 14 WLs (7 front). WHFB is about surgical precision... spending the right amount of points and using a unit the correct way to accomplish the most carnage. Know your strenghts and weaknesses, and your smaller force will decimate a much larger one.
Fear me, mortals, for I am The Anointed, The Favored Son of Chaos, The Scourge of the World. The armies of the Gods rally behind me, and it is by My Will and by My Sword that your weakling nations shall fall. - Archaon, The Everchosen, Lord of the End Times
I actually use the offensive power of a hero with great weapon as his main defence. He strikes first so will cut up most things that target him. Sure he dies sometimes, I can accept that, other times my characters have stood head to head with vampires and the like and won. You can spend a lot of defence and opponents will have a harder time killing you, but enemy characters of the orc, chaos, vampire breed that are designed for combat will still beat HE characters without too much trouble, even if they feel a bit of pain doing it.I do have the armour of caledor in my list, so I do not negate defense completely, but I aim to make my characters cheap. This ensures I have more points for units. HE characters alone will not win battles, no matter how much defence you give them. I know this from experience when I used to give them as much as I could. I don't know what kind of list you run though so can make no judgement.
To me, an archmage with no arcane items to boost his magic is a waste of points. Magic isn't just about as many power dice as you can get. And princes are always a waste of points for how little they give you above a noble. 1 extra attack, one extra leadership for a hell of a lot more points and almost as easy to kill. My armies performed much better as soon as I stopped taking a prince. The exception, of course, is if you want a dragon.