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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
So I've been looking at my Empire Army list, and lately friends of mine been telling me that instead of have two or three units of 20-man state troops I should change it to one huge horde unit. Is this really necessary? Where's the fun in having a horde (besides Skaven),when you can have 2 or 3 state troop units.

Any other Empire players here who make a horde unit?
 

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I typically run my swords in groups of at least 30 though in bus formation. They have much better staying power that way, though I guess it depends on what you are typically facing for me its WoC so they get torn apart.

From what I understand Halberds are typically run in horde with at least 40 troops to increase hitting power and make sure enough troops survive until close combat.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I typically run my swords in groups of at least 30 though in bus formation. They have much better staying power that way, though I guess it depends on what you are typically facing for me its WoC so they get torn apart..
The bus formation? What's that?

From what I understand Halberds are typically run in horde with at least 40 troops to increase hitting power and make sure enough troops survive until close combat.
I've seen players make a horde of either 40-50 Swordsmen because of their increased WS and I.
 

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Bus formation is just the standard 5 wide and say 8 deep in the case of 40 that way you stay steadfast longer and keep your rank bonus up.

As for the swordsmen I'm pretty sure they only have increased WS, but that and the shield do make them decent anvil units.
 

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Swordsmen are usually run in 5 wide and 6-8 deep in regiments of 30-40. Their limited offensive power (1S3 attack) does not warrant a horde formation. Halberdiers; however, are usually run in horde formation 10 wide and 4-6 deep. An expensive but effective unit features 60 halberdiers (with witch hunter & warrior priest) with one or 2 detachments of 30 swordsmen run 5*6.
 

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Where's the fun in having a horde (besides Skaven),when you can have 2 or 3 state troop units.

Any other Empire players here who make a horde unit?
I can understand what you mean about having multiple units if you're maybe coming from playing another army or gaming system. However, Empire isn't intended to be an army of elite troops; rather, its strength, similar to skaven, is in numbers. You can use smaller blocks very effectively if you use them in the right role such as creating an anvil to hold an enemy unit while you get your hammer in position. That's where that deep ranks method works well. It's just that if you separate those units up your enemy will be able to easily take them out one at a time. You eventually need a hammer unit which for me tends to be a horde of halberds, a big unit of greatswords, or a big unit of knights.

The other point I wanted to make is that even though you might not be able to effectively run an army with, say, 3 units of 20 (must be a small points level like 1500?) you could definitely run an army with a unit of 40 and one of 20. Or even one of 40 and two of 10, both smaller units supporting the big one and redirecting charges. Empire's point costs for core troops are still quite low and you can fit a lot more models on the table than most other armies (except skaven of course). If you are insistent on running an army with fewer models might I suggest bolstering each unit with captains and warrior priests where useful, and maybe going with elite troops such as greatswords and knights?
 

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Jackmoddle is pointing you in the right direction.

Your friends are really only half right. Their suggestion of combining your regiments of 20 together so that you have a larger, more survivable unit in your line is a good idea. Putting them in a 10x4 Horde formation, is a bad idea.

In my area, Hordes have really gone out of style - they just don't put down that much damage and/or they cost entirely too much. Running a regiment of Halberdiers in a Horde* is like fitting a square peg into a round hole. Halberdiers just aren't that good at killing stuff. We have other regiments who are equipped for that - Knights, Demigryphs, STanks, Reiksguard, etc. Being "Horde-wide" makes the unit harder to maneuver, spreads out your battle line, and means that the enemy can throw multiple smaller regiments into your front if he really needs to. It came down to the fact that Hordes were only good at combatting Hordes, and when there are no Hordes on the table... they all just disappear in a puff of logic.

Large units are the thing though. The trick is to have a regiment that's 5-6 models wide, and then 5+ ranks deep. That's what cheap Core models are for: providing ranks so that you can hold the enemy by being Steadfast, and then use magical support or a countercharge to turn the tables and route them by denying them Steadfast when they're forced to Break.

*I do play a Horde of Halberdiers, however, they're not 40 strong - they're 60. 10x6 is a LOT for the enemy to kill, and once I drop down to 40, I reform into 5x8 formation. I don't actually enjoy having a Horde that size, but what it does give me, is the ability to put 1 Priest and 1 BSB into the regiment, and have the Detachments of 30 Swordsmen (the better choice for smaller units) who are also benefiting from "Hold the Line!" and "Hatred", as well as +1Ld as I usually stick the Crown of Command onto one of the characters. While that did work, lately I have been dropping down to a more standard Core of just the Swordsmen on their own, and Knights. It's a lot more flexible, and frees up points (in addition to adding the Knights) to get more "hammers" into the list, and frees up my Magic from having to babysit the Halberdiers.
 

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I've found the Empire does not work well in hordes, my 40 swordsmen went against a unit of 50 savage orcs with 2 hand weapons (that's 50 attacks for those counting) I would have been much better off taking my swordsmen only 5 wide and limiting the number of attacks against the unit. I have toyed with the idea of taking a huge horde of spearmen with handgunner detachments and just have them sit back and wait while the artillery softens up my opponent, but I have yet to play that game.
 

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I've found the Empire does not work well in hordes, my 40 swordsmen went against a unit of 50 savage orcs with 2 hand weapons (that's 50 attacks for those counting) I would have been much better off taking my swordsmen only 5 wide and limiting the number of attacks against the unit. I have toyed with the idea of taking a huge horde of spearmen with handgunner detachments and just have them sit back and wait while the artillery softens up my opponent, but I have yet to play that game.
You realize the Savage orc unit is like 200% more expensive right...

A horde of Halbs cost very few points relatively speaking and generally beats most units in its price range. Things like T3 2+ armour cav, even approximate points in Minfantry.
 

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20 models is really awfully small regardless of the formation or type of State Troop. It's not even that they can be picked apart one after the other if they are separated, they should in most circumstances evaporate even if they are together. They do not have any relevant damage output nor stamina.

As a matter of fact, I consider even 40 relatively small (ofc that depends on the point level). I disagree that they do not throw out enough attacks - 30 S4 is as good as 10 Knights or a unit of Demis, give or take, while armour and total wound count are a wash.

As to the age-old horde vs. bus - completely depends on the situation at hand. Generally speaking, a bus will ensure that you lose a particular fight even against units of similar abilities. The advantage which overcompensates for this is that you probably don't run, giving you a chance to finish off a flank elsewhere or to bring in overwhelming force, with buffs on your turn. Swordsmen are primarily a defensive unit, so a bus is somewhat their natural formation. However, if you're facing something like 40 Clanrats in horde with 45, 50 Swordsmen, you can actually win that fight in horde and break SF. The same goes for tougher but less numerous units against which 4, 5 ranks will be enough for quite a while - the drastically increased number of attacks can really swing things around, S3 notwithstanding.
 

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Part of the reasoning behind not going Horde, even if it would win you the fight, is because it is better to wait until your own turn to smash the opponent utterly. Of course, this is in an ideal situation, where you have the option of waiting for help or getting a magic buff, etc. It's also worth noting that an "even match" against Clanrats isn't 40 Swordsmen vs. 50 Clanrats, it's 40 Swordsmen vs. ~80 Clanrats.

Horded vs. Horde:
Rats: 30A = 4.2 kills
Swords: 30A = 5.6 kills

You've "won" combat against those Rats by less than 2 full points, and that's assuming that neither of you charged. Granted, that's also assuming that there aren't actually eighty rats in that regiment, making them Steadfast anyways.

Horde Rats vs. 'Bus' Swords (5-wide)
Rats: 21A = 2.9 kills
Swords: 10A = 1.85 kills

Again, the gap is slight, and this time you're losing by a hair over a point. So the difference is, you win by ~1.5pts or lose by ~1pt. That difference is negligible when you're rolling that many dice.
The real difference is that in a 5x8 formation, you're actually Steadfast against the Horde of Skaven (until you lose that 1 model, if you lose it) and have taken fewer casualties. If you have the opportunity to flank and disrupt those Skaven (most of the CR in either of these fights is coming from ranks) on the following turn, or throw a boost onto your Swordsmen, or (best case) flank with some heavy-hitters, those Skaven are toast and you're likely to be obliterating their Steadfast with 7 ranks of your own remaining.

In a Horde vs. Horde formation, the Skaven (point for point) will stay Steadfast longer, and by virtue of having more wounds, will be more likely to grind you down over a prolonged combat. If you are Bussed and the Skaven are stupid enough to be Horded, then you are going to grind each other and then pound them later on. That's what has killed Hordes in my area. Why bother spending so many points just to get an extra rank of attacks, when the only opponents who will meet you Horde-on-Horde are going to have confidence in their ability to beat you? Otherwise, you're adding all those extra bodies where you could add ranks, and then only getting 7-8 models into contact because your opponent Swift Reforms into a bus to get their Steadfast. Why take all of that effort making non-killy cheap, ranked, Steadfast or SF-breakable Core into wanna-be killers, when you and your opponent are fielding units like Blood Knights, Skull Crushers, Ogres, Trolls, and other assorted real killers. Use the Core for your Steadfast blocks to pin those kinds of units down, blunting their effect and then hitting them with your own.
 

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Without wishing to sound too disingenious, my point stands even after that veritable hail of assumptions. Situations arise all the time in which having triple the attacks is beneficial or 3-4 ranks are enough. The possibility to create an even better situation does not change that, so I advise people not to be a slave to the movement tray.

The concept of an "even match" is misplaced here. The argument is that if one has the option to create a mismatch with a horde, one can as well capitalize on it. If that works better with a bus + some other unit, go for it. However it is worth noting that in that case, we might as well be talking about 130 Clanrats, or 80 + some other unit on their side, assuming said concept does indeed somehow translate into reality...which leads straight into a fine infinite regress.

The gap is slight because the example pitted units against one another which do not impress with their overall damage output no matter what. The point is that if both are in bus, it's a pillow fight likely to continue for quite some time - there is after all a priori no ensurance that help will be around soon: The WLC could have shot the Demis/the Great Cannon the HPA or the buff fails to go off, or a myriad of other things too complex to mention. Or perhaps the Skaven player has simply remembered to let another tarpit run interference to protect the supposed open flank.

Also, steadfast is not the same as unbreakable. It goes without saying that one needs to take these factors (Ld AoE's) into account. Even if one side stays steadfast "longer" - rather, is steadfast -, the other one is actually winning. Small gap or not, losing alone does not win games.

Why bother spending so many points just to get an extra rank of attacks? Well, how many points are we actually spending by reforming the unit from a bus into a horde? That's right, not a single one, so the question as such is already moot. It is a popular fallacy to associate horde with a ginourmous unit and a bus with an economical investment when in fact formation and size have little to do with one another. True, a bus might work with just 35 models while a horde could do with 45 - but when everyone actively reduces his units' damage output by fielding them in bus as you say happens in your neighbourhood, that reasoning goes out of the window.

What's more: You call it "just" an extra rank of attacks. I call it a doubling or tripling of attacks that turns a loss into a win (for pretty much the same expenditure). Eye of the beholder...? :)
 

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I would recommend AGAINST going horde with any empire units except greatswords. Take halberds as an example, sure first round you get plenty of S4 attacks, with a WP this can start to look really nice, but after round 1 they're S3 and with low toughness and armor, they die very very quickly. While S4 sounds nice compared to most other core choices, if you don't crush the opposing unit down in turn (one and your fighting anything better than a clanrat or gobbo which is a MAJORITY of the units out there...) they're screwed.

On that note, I'm a rare empire player who thinks halberds are over rated, against anything but the most poorly of adversary they'll still get slapped silly and after round 1 they damage output is negligible. I much prefer the extra points invested in better armor and Ws, both of which help swords to last longer, because from my perspective, every-time they make a save that MINUS ONE to the enemy unit's total CR, if you follow me.

Greatswords are my exception because they A) are strength 5 everyone round B ) have a decent armor save C ) at a more expensive price per model its a waste to not use that extra strength you just paid for

If you REALLY want S4 core infantry.. take a Beast mage with the sig spell

Empire don't win via inflicting more wounds, they win through static combat resolution, going horde undermines the static CR of the unit and makes detachments even more difficult to use in conjunction with them.
 

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You know Halberds give +1 Str in all round of combat, right? As for Halberds in general for Empire, I say go Swords/Knights/Missile Troops/even Spearmen before them. And Bus Formation is your friend; Empire have the numbers to break enemy steadfast and will do so when your unit stays in combat allowing you to flank with something dangerous. Like Skaven, Empire do Hammer/Anvil play very well.
 
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