Total War Warhammer/Tactics/Empire

From 1d4chan

This is the tactics page for the Total War: Warhammer version of The Empire.

Why play The Empire?[edit]

  • Because who doesn't love the sight of normal, everyday humans beating back the supernatural through sheer force of arms?
  • A difficult, but very rewarding playstlye that rewards unit cohesion and combined arms tactics.
  • Guns. Lots and lots of guns.
  • Because the Karl Franz memes are too god damn good to not play them at least once.
  • Humanity, fuck yeah!


  • Jack of all Trades: There's not a single department anyone can say you're bad in. The Empire can be played in a variety of different ways that can be viable from gunlines to infantry brawls to skirmish tactics. No plan is off the table for The Empire.
  • Easy to Learn: One of the more straightforward armies out there. It doesn't have any rules or units that are too complicated, but their wide roster brings a variety of tools to the table.
  • Gunpowder: Gunpowder units are powerful in this game and can easily swing a fight in your favor if they are allowed to do their thing. Handgunners and Cannons can make any army regret coming to the field if used well. Their artillery is amazing for its cost and can blast most things into kingdom come.
  • Flexibility: As explained before, The Empire can bring a variety of tactics to the table, which can make them hard to predict. They have an answer for just about every race in the game, and while they have some uphill match ups, they can get together a few lists against everyone/
  • Cavalry: A very strong Cavalry faction, up there with the best (which kind of detracts form the whole "Jack of all Trades" thing mentioned above) Empire Knights are amazing for their price, and Demigryphs can take on just about any other cav unit one on one and win.
  • Powerful Legendary Lords: The Empire has some of the best named characters in the game. Karl Franz and Volkmar can be a massive asset to any battlefield, and Gelt and Wulfhart can be used to amazing effect as well.
  • Magic: You have access to every generic lore of magic in the game, including Metal if you pick Gelt as your lord.
  • Skirmishing: Don't let all the flashy stuff the Norscans and the Dark Elves wave around fool you: You have some of the best skirmishing units in the game, if not the best. Both on foot as well as on horseback. Free Company work amazing for their cost and Outriders can be a terrifying mobile gunline when used right.


  • Master of None: The main downside of most Jack of all Trades factions. Everyone in the game outclasses you at something. Sure, your State Troops are crushing those Men-at-Arms, but you're cav just got ran over by Grail Knights. Your heavy cav chased of those Wild Riders, but now Waywatchers are putting out more value than your missiles could dream off. Yeah, your gunline and artillery are carving up the Chaos Warriors, but know that they are in melee you can kiss your frontline goodbye. You need to make up for your weaknesses when going up against certain factions.
  • Mediocre Infantry: Unless you're going up against the worst of the worst in terms of infantry factions, you are probably not winning the frontline without support (Priest, spells, Pincer attacks). Infantry lines are mainly there to buy time for your other elements, not to win on their own.
  • Aerial Inferiority: Some of your lords and heroes have airborne mounts, but beyond that you got nothing in the sky.
  • Difficult to Master: most newer players pick Empire in multiplayer due to their relative ease of campaign in single-player, only to learn they are hard as hell in Multiplayer. The Empire is a faction that requires time and finesses to play perfectly and isn't something you can pick up and play.
  • DLC Locked Content: You don't have it as bad as some factions, but you do have some missing stuff you would like on the battlefield. Also, you are the only core race to never get an FLC lord, meaning if you are committed to not buying DLC, you're stuck with Franz and Gelt (not that they're bad choices, but more options are always good)

The campaign and unique mechanics (The Old World)[edit]

The Empire pretty much fills out the entire northern part of the old world, giving you a very secure starting position with either Franz, Gelt, or Volkmar. The main routes into the Empire, except the infamous Black Fire Pass, are guarded by the Imperial forts from the south and west, and by Kislev from the north.

At the start of the game, The Empire is fractured into many independent provinces, each ruled by an Elector Count. Karl Franz, for example, is the Elector Count of Riekland and you play him as such. Each of the Elector Count factions have Fealty, which shows how loyal the individual Count is to the Empire as a whole. If their fealty reaches zero, they secede from the Empire and start a civil war; if it reaches ten, they will offer you a confederation, causing you to take direct control of their lands and existing armies. If you control the main capital of a province, you can make one of your lords the Elector Count of that province and receive a global bonus of some sort to one or more troop types, a unique passive bonus for the lord in question, and the Runefang of the province, which is an Epic item of some sort with a unique ability that ranges from amazing to useless.

The Elector Counts cannot form military alliances or confederate through normal diplomacy. Instead, the Imperial Authority and Prestige mechanics are used to represent the political power of your faction within the Empire and manage relations with the other Elector Counts. You basically want 1 Imperial Authority and 1000 Prestige at all times, and Elector Count events will give you more at the cost of money, prestige, or diplomatic relations. Prestige increases when you win battles or through events, as well through the number of controlled regions. As with Charles V, the key to ruling the Empire is giving the Elector Counts just enough independence to get themselves into trouble but not enough to cripple the Empire. Do not be in a rush to confederate them through the Imperial Authority mechanic; it builds up slowly and you'll find yourself drawn into frontier wars with powers hostile to the Empire culture instead of leaving it to the Elector Count AI to handle. The exceptions, generally speaking, would be Averland and Stirland, which have a tendency to get deleted by the Vampire Counts and thus inflict Authority losses that can snowball into civil war, the disintegration of the Empire, and mass public unrest in all your provinces. Either confederate those two provinces first, or get involved in the vampire wars and save them from extinction. Any civil war with another Elector Count is a mistake; it will cost you a great deal of Imperial Authority, especially if you actually conquer that Elector's territory and wipe them out yourself.

As is befitting for the most basic faction in the game, the Empire's economy is neither terribly bad, nor exceptionally good. There are few exploits or economic landmarks, aside from some major ports in the hands of neighboring factions, and the economic resources you would usually trade are generally in the hands of other Elector Counts at the start of your campaign, and you will either have to wait for those settlements to be taken by an enemy or fight an unprofitable civil war for them. For most of the early campaign you will be focused on fighting off rogue Greenskin armies and dealing with the Vampire Counts. Expansion opportunities are slim until you can build up some reserves; if you reconquer Marienburg you could expand into Couronne and knock out Louen Louencour early, leaving Bretonnia easy prey for your armies, but you will also be exposed to non-stop Norscan raids. If you try to conquer the Dwarfholds, expect a long, bloody, slog with a faction that should be your trading partner and buffer against the Greenskins, and if you think of heading into the Southern Realms you will find Skaven harassing you everywhere. The overall victory condition for the Empire campaign is uniting all the Elector Count provinces and defeating Archaon.

Legendary Lords and Subfactions[edit]

  • Karl Franz: So Franz is your beatstick Legendary Lord and my lord is he good at his job. Thanks to his items he is widely considered one of the best non mage lords in the entire game. First off, Deathclaw is able to give him control of the skies and once you have it it should be what he's on for the entire game, campaign or multiplayer. Ghal Maraz also gives him +16 anti large and armor piercing, making him a damn scary monster killer, and wields the Riekland Runefang, which grants an AOE leadership and attack buff to his troops. Combine that with fear and terror and Franz can be a goddamn nightmare for a lot of factions to deal with. His only real weakness is that if your take him you're pretty much forced to being a Lore of Life mage due to how squishy he is. Aside from that, damn good choice for campaign and multiplayer.
  • Balthasar Gelt: So Gelt is not only the only lord level mage you have, he's also your only access to the Lore of Metal. The Staff of Volans gives you a crazy amount of magic to play with, meaning you can get quite a few castings of Final Transmutation off in order to delete blobs. Plus, the fact that he can ride a Pegasus means he is decent at keeping himself out of trouble, though if someone gets their hands on him he's probably going to be in trouble. All in all he's a decent pick in multiplayer, especially against heavy armor or factions who love to blob, but there are just better options for you. In the campaign, he can get some crazy buffs to magic, armor, and artillery. Also memes. Lots of memes. Starts in Solland and not penalize for spreading into the mountains, so lots of non-"allied" factions to expand into.
  • Volkmar the Grim (DLC): So if you want at least a semi-decent chance at winning the infantry fight, you got to bring Volkmar. On his War Altar of Sigmar, he can be a crazy powerful lord to assist your state troops. While you may see his lack of armor-piercing and wonder how the hell he's going to deal with armored troops, remember that it's his abilities that make him so good. He's got a buffed version of Shield of Faith and Soulfire meaning he can really buff up your infantry troops and deal with blobs fairly well, on half the cooldown normal Priests and Arch-Lectors have too. In the end, though, Jade Griffon is what makes him so amazing, as replenishment makes him ungodly hard to kill. Combine that with the fact that he can cast Banishment twice with no winds of magic use, and you got a buffing, blob destroying beast who can turn your infantry fights from a surefire loss to a possible win. In the campaign he's an alternative to Franz with a focuses on making a single Flagelent death stack possible.
  • Boris Todbringer (DLC....Kinda): So our boy Toddy has an odd way to unlock him. You'd think he'd be the FLC choice for the Empire but no, CA did something kind of stupid. He could only be unlocked after beating the Eye for an Eye campaign you get when you buy Call of the Beastmen in game 1, and even then only in custom battles and multiplayer. Meaning you have to buy the Beastmen DLC, complete a crappy mini campaign and then you can bring Toddy to multiplayer but not make him playable on campaign. Yeah, it's pretty dumb. Thankfully if you play the second game it's not gonna ask for the mini campaign (But he still remains unavailable as an LL choice on Mortal Empires, why CA, why). Good news is Boris is pretty good in combat. His runefang gives him passive regeneration meaning that while he doesn't do as much damage as Franz, you don't have to babysit him nearly as much. Still has terror and a good leadership and melee capabil bomb ability, so can be very good against low leadership faction.
  • Markus Wulfhart (DLC): Markus is your choice if you love kite builds but are too manly to be an elf. With vanguard, stalk, nets and TWO different sniping abilities he can take a large target and burn it down pretty darn fast. Armor-piercing anti large means he like fighting factions that rely on big armored monsters, so if you're against someone who loves them, he will do wonders. His biggest problem is his lack of mount options meaning that he is pretty prone to getting gooned out and dying to any decent melee character who realizes he can't get away. He can do some great damage and help out your skirmishers with nets and buffs, but if your opponent wants him dead it's honestly not that hard for them to get him that way. His campaigns place him in Lustria, where he wages a war of "colonization" against the lizardmen. As his underpowered forces escalate the conflict with the dinosaurs with friken laserbeams, your backers will ship you reinforcement to further their interests, letting Wulfhart play with late tier units very early in the game. In Vortex he is also gearing up with his fight with Nakai, Gathering up and leveling 4 special heroes to tip the scales in the climactic battle between two hunters.


Generic Lords[edit]

  • General of the Empire: Discount Melee lord. Budget Griffon rider, but most players will make room for a Karl or Boris instead.
  • Arch Lector (DLC): comparison of discount Volkmar or Priest make lord. Still a good fighter and line supporter with his prayers. He rolled the lord and priest slot together so you can fill the vacant hero slot with a wizard.
  • Huntsman General (DLC): Discount Wulfhart. Rather than being a powerful sniper, Huntsman is Support Lord for Gunlines. Has fire for days to inflict on Flammable and Regening enemies. Can also shoot exploding fire arrows, give units around him fire attacks and faster shooting, and an Oil attack that makes things weak(er) to fire and slows for more shooting time. Sees less use as most players need a fast-moving melee character to press the enemy and keep monsters off their weak holing lines.

Legendary Heroes (Huntsmarshal's Expedition only)[edit]

Markus Wulfhart gets four unique heroes to help his quest to conquer Lustria. All four start with Immortality, and three of them are totally unique to the Empire. In the campaign each of the four heroes has a quest chain that allows you to unlock new items and skills for them, much like Legendary Lords. Reaching the end of the quest chains gives each hero a unique effect to aid you in the final battle against Nakai the Wanderer.

  • Hertwig Van Hal: An upgraded witch hunter who hates the undead with a passion, giving him bonus damage to all undead but causing diplomatic penalties with Vampire Coast factions. His quest chain gives him one of two abilities; he can either heal allied units, or temporarily make units around him unbreakable. If you plan to keep Markus and the gang together it's best to get the healing ability.
  • Rodrik L'Anguille: A Bretonnian paladin and the tank of Wulfharts little RPG team. He's a decent brawler but best used to protect the rest of the group with defensive abilities and high armour. Also, despite being a Bretonnian he can't ride a horse and has to foot slog into battle, although he can get some speed bonuses with talents. Keep him in the front of the army, ideally with Hertwig or a life wizard nearby to keep him standing. In the campaign, Rodrik can choose between unlocking a unique sword for better offense, or doubling down on his tankieness with even more defensive abilities.
  • Kalara: A wood elf Waystalker and your premier assassin. She can venture out on her own with the deadly combination of snipe, stalk, and vanguard deployment; but she also has a few passive buffs to help allied ranged units. Keep her with some huntsmen, or ideally the Deathjacks, for a surgical kill-team that gives enemy lords and heroes nightmares.
  • Jorek Grimm: A Dwarf engineer who decided to work with the empire. He can entrench and replenish ammo for your artillary, two things the Empire cannot normally get and desperately needs. Jorek brings a bevy of inventions and items to the campaign, including a caster item no-one in the group can use and even a freaking gyrocopter.


  • Empire Captain: Your generic melee hero, and honestly he is probably the worst one in that category. No AP, anti large or infantry, no special support abilities or powers, just a dude with a sword who can't really do anything against most dedicated combat character. His pegasus makes him mobile, letting him kite around the battlefield like a human missile. He's a decent mage hunter, but if you expect him to do anything other than that in multiplayer, prepare to be disappointed. Empire Captains just aren't as strong or resilient as the melee champions of other races. In campaign, a level 40 Empire Captain is a tank and should be used as such. He'll also do a lot better with a Runefang than either a Huntsmen-General or an Arch Lector, so if you appoint either as Elector Counts you should bring a captain to use the sword.
  • Witch Hunter: Your designated assassin. Has decent melee capabilities, but his main use is his armor piercing pistol which, although short range, packs a hell of a punch. Comes equipped with the Accusation ability, wherein he points at an enemy and yells at it, lowering melee defense, armor, and missile resistance. Works well in conjunction with other ranged units for when you really want one specific unit to get obliterated. His short range and lack of any kind of mount really holds him back, especially against swifter foes.
  • Warrior Priest: An excellent support hero, his buffs will make every unit around him temporarily win at combat no matter who they're fighting despite the fact your lines were supposed to be one of the weakest infantry in-game. In fact buffing infantry is the most effective use for him since their staying power allows them to make the most of his buffs.
  • Wizards: One of the strengths of The Empire is that it has a Wizard for every occasion, bar partying with Gelt.
    • Amber Wizard: Unique among Empire wizards, he has access to a griffon mount. Makes your stuff better at fighting and can summon a Feral Manticore for more aerial gooning. Don't rely on him for direct-damage; those spells are unreliable at best and you'll be better off going for a different lore of magic for that.
    • Amethyst Wizard: Specializes for sniping single entities and units with small unit sizes. Aim for high value targets with lots of armor/physical resistance.
    • Jade Wizard: The Hippy is the team medic, Very valuable in any list that has Griffons that has a high value unit or two.
    • Grey Wizard: Specializes in debuffing enemies and occasionally reaping clumps of enemies. The more he casts, the faster your units become.
    • Bright Wizard: A DPS caster that devastates Flammable (almost anything with regen or treekin) units in addition to boosting the damage output of your own.
    • Celestial Wizard: A good, all-around lore. Lots of damage spells with a handful of buff/debuff spells.
    • Light Wizard: Strong lore, letting your units catch a running monster or halt a charge, and can make the difference between your infantry standing and breaking in an important protracted battle.

Melee Units[edit]

  • Spearmen: Bare basic troops that have a charge bonus against cavalry. Cheapest of chaff but no shield.
  • Spearmen (Shield): Spearmen but with better defensive stats and an ability to tank arrows while costing a teeny bit more. Unless a chaos host will be hitting your bare-bones settlement in 2 turns and it's the only thing you can recruit locally, always get Spearmen with Shields.
    • Eldred's Guard (Spearmen)(ECST) In the campaign they are spearmen with expert charge defense and anti-large damage.
  • Swordsmen: Your very basic melee infantry and the epitome of average. Doesn't do well against all but the weakest of enemy fighters (Think Skavenslaves, Peasants, Zombies) and will get positively obliterated by most of the baseline troops of the WH2 factions. That being said, they work well enough for their cost and have decent morale.
    • Sigmar's Sons (Swordsmen)(ROR): Unbreakable and better defensive states, making them better qualified to hold the line.
    • Swords of Ulric (Swordsmen)(ECST) Swordsmen with frenzy and fear, making them better frontline damage dealers.
  • Greatswords: Your melee infantry elite. As usual, nothing all that groundbreaking and a bit frail. They work really well as tarpits for enemy elite troops as well as being able to even drag some of their enemies with them, their great morale being a valuable asset. Used right, they can punch far above their weight.
    • Carroburg Greatswords (Greatswords)(ECST): Unbreakable Greatswords that deal magic damage, as well as an area buff increasing nearby units melee attack. Tend to get focused down a lot by the AI.
  • Halberdiers: Available fairly early on and a really good option for your frontline. Halberdiers make Bretonnians and Dragon Prince's cry, they are a very cost-effective counter against all matter of heavy cavalry that gets thrown their way. They share the same boons of Greatswords: Armour-Piercing, good model count, decent morale. Granted only 40 armor and no shield means that if the enemy has any kind of missile unit, these guys are going to say hello to Morr very quickly.
    • Nordland Mariners (Halberdiers)(ECST): The marines negate charge bonus from anything they brace against. They're also aquatic, making them good in fighting in maps with a lot of water like in lustria or on the high sea.
  • Flagellants (DLC): Your most cost-effective tarpit. While being extremely fragile, they tie down enemy units, especially those without bonuses against infantry very effectively. Generally speaking, they work better in MP than on the campaign, where Suicide units are not worth it. Combined with an Arch-Lector or Volkmar leading your army (especially the latter, who buffs their Physical Resist up to 33%), they turn into shockingly vicious chaff killers with Bretonnian levels of charge bonus and 50% Missile resist.
    • The Tattersouls (Flagellants)(ROR): Even better at tying down enemy units, having both more health and bigger unit.

Missile Infantry[edit]

  • Free Company Militia (DLC): These guys are a very good flanking and dual-purpose unit. They have no AP or much range but they make up for it by being able to fire while moving forward and being somewhat decent in melee for missile standards. This means they can defend themselves against hounds and be able to wrap around the flank, fire into the side or back, and charge if they run out of ammo. All in all a solid unit if used well. In campaigns their versatility makes the auto-resolve AI think they're far more powerful than they actually are.
    • Stirland's Revenge (Free Company Militia)(ROR): come with Skalk and Immune to psychology, along with an ok amount of AP missile damage makes them fill a better ambusher role.
  • Crossbowmen: your reliable shooting unit, a long-range of 160 and shots will arc over your units. Easy to use and cost-effective if facing enemies with low armor.
    • Stir River Patrol (Crossbowmen)(ECST) Vanguard crossbowmen with fire damage and slowing attacks. Excellent when fighting undead and chaos monsters, dealing big damage while giving dedicated monster slayers an opportunity to catch them.
  • Handgunners: There's a reason why the Empire's described as being built on Faith, Steel, and Gunpowder. While you do need micro to be effective due to their LOS firing arcs and you usually have to babysit them, Handgunners are a key part of an Empire Army as soon as they're available. These guys are excellent at melting away heavy infantry formations, and there are few things more satisfying than seeing lines of guns mow down a group of chosen. Yeah, selling your soul to the asshole gods was a great choice schmuckos!
    • The Silver Bullets (Handgunners)(ROR): Handgunners with magic guns. Specialize in picking off high-value targets that rely on Physical Resistance for defense.
    • Gunderson's Surefires (Handgunners)(ECST): Essentially free company who traded their pistols for full-sized handguns. They can't fire while moving, but they can vanguard deploy and do well enough in melee.
  • Archers (DLC): With a pitiful 120 range and better options on the table, the main advantage these guys have is that they're cheap as dirt and can be recruited at tier 1. Choice #1 if you want to save money and force your opponent to fight in the rain. You will get better results from other options, which have AP or move faster, but quantity has a quality all its own.
    • Deathjacks (Archers)(ROR): What other archers wished they could be. They are set apart by having the powerful combo of Stalk, Snipe, and vanguard deployment, letting them be the ultimate skirmishers, constantly lowering the health of units while the opponent is not looking.
  • Huntsmen (DLC): Human waywatchers only they swapped out AP for Anti Large. These guys are great at killing low armor monsters and cav and their ability to vanguard and fire while moving makes them ungodly annoying for any army that can't catch them. You're wasting shots if you put them into infantry and don't expect much against super heavily armored monsters, but they can be a pretty useful unit against the right factions.
    • White Wolves (Huntsmen)(ROR): Huntsmen that don't imminently crumble when charged by light skirmishers. Your asking if your going to pay extra so a unit of Huntsmen don't immediately high tale it and probably stop participating in the battle when a unit of hounds bites them.


  • Empire Knights: Knights are one of the few units in the Empire roster that can be considered great. Boasting a decent statline, really good armour, and morale, they can hold their own with most cavalry in the game and only Dragon Princes, Blood Knights, and Grail Knights outperform them. That said, do not throw them against other cavalry; their bonuses provide anti-infantry damage, so use them as the hammer to your infantry's anvil. If you use them to fight, say, Knights-Errant, you will be disappointed.
    • Knights of the Everlasting Light(Empire Knights)(ECST): Bog-standard Knights with Magic Attacks. Counters Ethereal units and does pretty well against anything without magic resistance. Leave them at home if you're fighting dwarfs.
    • Knights of Morr(Empire Knights)(ECST): Knights that cause Fear and Terror. Will chase way anything that isn't fearless or unbreakable.
    • Stubborn Bulls(Empire Knights)(ECST): Empire Questing knights with greatswords instead of lances. High AP cavalry, they are a good substitute for Demigryph Knights. The downside is you have to hold the Elector Countship of Ostland, which leaves you exposed to Norscans, Skaven, and Chaos invasions.
  • Reiksguard: Upgraded Knights, same strengths, same weaknesses. If you're playing MP, take normal Knights, they do the same job for cheaper.
    • Zintler's Reiksguard(Reiksguard) (ROR): Has Vanguard and Immune to Psychology. Gives a little more utility than Reiksguard.
  • Knights of the Blazing Sun (DLC): Bog-standard Knights with Fire Attacks and Higher DPS values. That's all that is to them. Counters Regenerating units like many undead, tree people, and trolls.

Missle Cavalry[edit]

  • Outriders: Outriders rank amongst the best skirmish units in the game, period. Their repeater rifles deliver a tremendous amount of firepower at a decent range and they are very quick on their feet (or rather, hooves). This comes at the relative downsight that, unlike Pisoliers, they cannot fire on the move or in all 360 degrees around them, making good micro a necessity. If you want to have a reference point in how to use them to their best, try playing around with Dragoons in Total War: Empire.
  • Outriders (Grenade Launcher): Screw Elven missile cav, Rotting Promethean Gunners or Norscan Missile cav, these are the definitive champions of the missile cav game and the best unit across all factions in that category. Grenade Launcher Outriders outright delete everything you point them at and rack up a substantial amount of kills very quickly. Unlike other gunpowder units they can fire over obstacles. Their mobility paired with their firepower make them prime targets and they are very expensive, so keep them save from any stray missile infantry that definitely will target them.
    • The Bordermen (Outriders (Grenade Launchers))(ECST): Now with higher ratio of AP damage, letting them deal significantly more damage to high armor enemies.
  • Pistoliers: If Outriders are your walking gunline, Pistoliers are your dedicated harassers. Fire on the move makes chases go very one-sided, which is their only real boon, apart from being cheap. Their missiles are fairly weak, don't pierce armour and even their ammo count isn't anything that spectacular.
    • The Noble Sons Abroad (Pistoliers)(ECST): Pistoliers with better melee skills and armour. They hit almost as hard as knights on the charge, but without as much AP damage.

Monsters Cavalry[edit]

  • Demigryph Knights: Versatile monstrous shock cavalry, with better survivability than normal cavalry and good armor-piercing damage. However, they are a fairly small unit and when compared to other monstrous cavalry they area outclassed by, say, Lizardmen and High Elves.
  • Demigryph Knights (Halberds): Can take on just about any other cav unit one on one and win.
    • The Royal Altdorf Gryphites (Demigryph Knights)(ROR): A step up with better melee defense and causes terror to better chase way cavalry that is not immune to it.


  • War Wagon (DLC): These things used to be a meme unit, though with the buffs they got I suppose you could make an argument for them. AP shots are nice and the additional tankiness can help them get out of some sticky situations. Plus they can function as chariots even without the AP in melee and the guys on the back can fire while in combat, so that's nice. Outriders will be better in 90% of situations, but honestly, they aren't absolutely useless.
They do beat pistoliers and Outriders when it comes to being harassed. High armor and you loss out on potential firepower when all the unused ammunition dies with the models, so War Wagon gives you more shooting for your buck with each wagon taking a lot of punishment before one model is lost compared to how much ammunition is lost when a cavalry unit reaches that same health margin.
  • War Wagon (Mortar) (DLC): Ok, so this is a meme unit. The extra mobility doesn't make up for the missing ammo and without the guns, to fire they are a hell of a lot worse in melee. Just take normal mortars, they'll do so much better and if you plop a spear unit by them they'll be defended just fine. (still, those Results can be pending) - Changes have been made to the Mortar Wagons, now not suffering from the range, damage, and ammo nerfs this unit previously had. They're still more expensive than regular mortars, so their usefulness is still dubious, although interestingly Mortar Wagons can hide in trees, if you want to conceal your artillery's position up until the last moment.
    • The Black Lions (War Wagon): (ROR) Carries Helblaster Volley Guns and sometimes can shoot over infantry. As with mortar war wagons, it's better to just take the regular artillery. They might be a lot more useful in the campaign due to their instant veterancy. Slightly more useful than the above Wagon's due to it allowing you to get better Helblaster angles.


  • Mortar: The first artillery unit you have access to, Mortars are very powerful against blobs of lightly-armored infantry. Their slow and indirect fire means positioning the mortar is less important than ensuring they have as much time as possible to drop explosives on the enemy. While they can be effective against archers, they are very weak to direct attacks and should be kept as far back as possible. They are also fairly inaccurate; don't expect any precision, and keep them from targeting units locked in close combat with yours unless you are targeting the ground or the enemy has blobbed up a lot against a thin line of your own troops. Their best niche is probably in siege battles; lots of enemy units clustered on walls and behind gates are easy kills for them.
    • Sootson's Guns (Mortar)(ECST): Deals magic damage and does not cause friendly fire, making it perfectly safe to shoot at your own units. If you can recruit more of them, and you have not yet unlocked Helstorm Rocket Batteries or want to save money, do so. They are straight-up better than standard mortars.
  • Great Cannon: Good Ol' Reliable. Will blast holes in most things it hits, thanks to its high AP damage, but it can really only hit things bigger than a house. As is traditional for Total War, you can manually aim and fire the cannon to better aim your shots. Given the nature of its cannonballs, it is surprisingly powerful when fired into the flank of enemy formations, but very inefficient if they're coming straight at the cannon. Surprisingly, they shine best in sieges, able to blast enemy towers, gates, and walls into rubble far faster than mortars. You're not going to get very many of these unless you're planning to do a lot of sieges with that army or planning to fight big, slow monsters like Dread Saurians. Vargheists and Varghulfs, while theoretically good targets, are fast enough to dodge the cannon shots and close in to kill the crew.
    • Hammer of the Witches (Great Cannon)(ROR): Magic cannons that deal 100 more damage per shot. Great when facing elite units with high amounts of physical resistance or ward save, but far less useful against those with magic resistance.
  • Helblaster Volley Gun: Fairly good in the hands of a veteran player. These are basically Gatling guns, mowing down infantry and nearly impossible for monsters and cavalry to dodge, unlike cannons. However, good positioning is needed to use them to full effect, and compared to Dwarf Organ Guns they have shorter range, lower AP damage, and a slightly lower rate of fire. Get the Black Lions if you can, as their mobility really helps make the best of the Helblaster.
  • Helstorm Rocket Battery: The cheese stick of the Empire on the campaign map. Given how fragile your melee line is to getting bogged down by at least decent enemy fighters like Night Goblins or Skeleton Warriors, Helstorms are your answer to massive big blobs of chaff. Sporting a ludicrous range combined with nine rockets per salvo per piece makes them perfect for thinning out hordes of Greenskins, Skaven and Undead. It has got two problems though: Its accuracy is more of a lucky guess at range, where the Helstorm follows the philosophy of "if i throw enough bombs at my enemy, one will hit them", the second and far worse one is that its damage against armoured elite infantry like Chaos Warriors or Swordmasters is subpar at best.
    • The Sunmaker (Helstorm Rocket Battery) (ROR) Trades lower ammunition for significantly more Fire damage. Basically a Cruise Missile that makes Skaven think twice if they should invest in Infantry.
  • Luminark of Hysh: A Giant's worst nightmare, the Luminark of Hysh deals the most damage of any artillery in Total Warhammer 1. Very accurate, on par with an Amber Spear and with very mild tracking effects, but specialized for targeting single entities. These are great for sniping high-value enemy units, like Lords, Heroes, and Dragons, especially if you can pin them down in some way. The bigger the target, the easier it is to hit with the Luminark. They also have a map-wide debuff that saps their enemy's ability to recharge their Winds of Magic and give your backline an impressive 12% ward save (resistance to physical and magical damage). However, they are near useless in melee, despite being powered by a Light wizard, and cost a lot. Look after them.
    • Templehof Luminark (Luminark of Hysh)(ROR): Can cast Net of Amyntok to stop any unit within range, making it an easy target.
  • Steam Tank: A heavily-armored, Unbreakable vehicle with a bow-mounted cannon and a turret-mounted steam gun for 360-degree counterattacking capability. As the cannon is mounted in an armored housing, it cannot be angled to target targets below the tank, so make sure that you place the tank on the downhill slope if you put it on high ground. The steam gun itself is fairly weak but has unlimited ammo, making it useful against blobs of low-to-medium tier infantry. The tank also has melee capabilities and a good charge, so it isn't entirely useless even after it runs out of ammunition.
    • The Emperor's Wrath (Steam Tank)(ECST): Has the ability to vent hot steam, preventing enemy units from engaging it for a short time and dealing a decent leadership debuff. It explodes when destroyed, taking out a chunk of whatever was attacking it.


Campaign Strategies[edit]

In Campaign, the crucial thing with Empire is having the right army composition. Usually, you gotta have the lord and 1-3 heroes, 2-4 cavalry/chariot units, 2-4 artillery units, no more than 4-6 missile infantry units, and the rest (around a third of your army) MUST be hand-to-hand infantry units. Do NOT go overboard with artillery and missile units, always have, at the very least, 6-8 melee infantry units, and use your general and melee heroes to hold back the enemy. Get this into your head: your melee infantry is your worst weakness, but it's also your backbone. Without them, all your shiny and deathly artillery will fail miserably. Your infantry is mediocre at best: low armor and hp make them die to a breeze, with bad strength they don't kill shit, and most of all, their low morale will make them run pretty soon. The combination of all these factors makes them very unreliable. More, more unreliable than you think when you begin the battle.

First of all, you need numbers: without that, you'll lose, 100% guaranteed. Even if you win a battle with only five swordsmen units and get cocky, in the next battle you'll find they're only at half strength (Empire infantry gets decimated in each battle, even victorious ones) and you'll get your ass handed to yourself. Get halberdiers asap, their defensive nature makes them perfect for an Empire gunline (which most of the time your army will be). You also need to place them right (spears/halberdiers in the flanks to protect against cavalry, no weak points in the battle line, no exposed flanks), and you need to support the right (heros with "Hold the line" and priests with battle prayers evenly distributed in the line, cavalry in the flanks prepared to intervene when necessary, mages to buff the line/debuff the enemy). Without a reliable wall of steel in front of them, your missiles and artillery won't have enough time to do their thing, and if the enemy gets to them, not only will they stop firing, they will suffer great (perhaps irreparable) casualties, the nearby units will get demoralized, and you'll have to dedicate a lot of resources to contain the breach, weakening the rest of your line. Do NOT let your battle line get breached!

When you progress in the game, you won't have to rely so much on the h2h infantry battle line. Your griffon/horsey general/captain/priest, with all their buffs, can contain whole units by themselves, your mages can use their flying mounts to position their spells where they are truly devastating, your high-end artillery can work miracles, and demi-grypth knights can operate independently. And yet, do not delude yourself: without a good battle line, all will be for naught. Greatswords are good but not truly great (heh), do not think they are Ironbreakers or you'll pay for it. As always, even if I repeat myself, never leave home without around a third of your army being melee infantry!

About mages, remember, with Empire the name of the game is buff/debuffs. Your little guys truly need them, do not use missile and offensive magic unless you have a lot of magic reserves and will get a lot of advantage when doing it. Later in the game, when you have a good mage with lots of magic reserves, some vortexes, either moving or immobile, and things like Comet of Cassandora can be outright devastating when the massed enemy is being contained by your battle line and you cast them right in the middle of them. But even then, only do it AFTER you have buffed/debuffed the right units and have the battle more or less under control.

About pistoliers/outriders, they only shine when you have many of them, and can shoot a unit while it's occupated pursuing your other units. This is especially true with outriders, who can't move and shoot. Lonely units won't do much, but having said that, even if they only manage to get one enemy infantry unit away from the main battle when the action takes place, they have justified their cost.

About empire knights and all their variants, remember that even with all their armor they die fast in prolonged combat, or get whittled down by the enemy fire. Never let them get too far from your battle line, where their slowness (for cavalry) can make them get surrounded and destroyed by the enemy. Their primary use is to support your infantry, not to chase enemy missiles away (although they can and should do that sometimes, of course).

To sum it all up, never forget that, in this game, Empire is the closest thing to managing a real-life army: one moment of overconfidence and many lives will be lost!

Multiplayer Strategies[edit]

The Empire is supposed to be the quintessential Jack of all Trades faction. You are good at a multitude of strategies, but you also don't overtly specialize in anything. This flexibility allows you to be one of the more unpredictable and versatile factions in the trilogy, allowing you to use all kinds of tactics from skirmishing to gun lines to infantry rushes and heavy cav builds. Sadly, while you are good at using these multitude of tactics, every faction in the game will out match you in something. Sure, you have the tools to exploit the weaknesses of others, but if you try to out skirmish the Wood Elves or out melee Chaos you shouldn't be surprised when it goes tits up for you. Contrary to what you may believe as the main human faction, this is not a beginner friendly army and needs experience and good micro to use well. Still, you have plenty of ways to take the field and destroy your enemies. FOR SIGMAR!

  • Beastmen: The Beastmen are going to get into melee whether you like it or not, but you can soften them up before they get there. Bring crossbows and handguns to soften the enemy up, and some spearmen and halberdiers to absorb the enemies charge. If your micro game is strong you can do some good damage with pistoliers; but free company are to slow to keep away from the beastmen. Bringing Toddy isn't just fluffy, he's pretty great against low leadership enemies like beastmen. Don't bring normal artillery unless you can keep it totally bubble-wrapped with infantry; a steam tank will usually work better than a couple of cannons. You should bring at least one Luminark to deal with enemy monsters, just keep it safe from flanking attacks.
  • Bretonnia: Your cavalry is good, but the Bretonnians will win in the cycle-charge game. Halberdiers are your best friends here; they can split knights apart with their high AP and anti-large damage. Keep some handguns and hellblasters to shoot the knights down when they break away from melee, and bring some outriders to delete the enemy elite.
  • Daemons of Chaos:
  • Chaos Warriors: Chaos generally don't bring their elite infantry options here as they're very vulnerable to missiles and most state troops are unarmored to start with. As such, Greatswords can be a great support tool for your frontline. Two of them can help take out most Chaos infantry aside from Chosen with support from spears. Aside from that, your options generally revolve around whether you want to pick Franz or Volkmar. If you pick Franz to deal with monsters, go for mobility. Two outriders can tear most of the Chaos army apart and you can use Empire knights to protect them from lighter maurader and hound units. Be sure to bring a life wizard to keep Franz alive. If you want Volkmar to guarantee an infantry win, a few handgunners can be brought to pick apart Shaggoths and a couple cav units and a light wizard with nets can be used to support them.
  • Dark Elves: This is one of the few match ups were Lance Demigryphs are better than the Halberd version. Due to the amount of range AP the Dark Elves bring the shield is super important to help keep them alive, and since Dark Elves don't rely much on heavy cav these guys are better for cycle charging infantry. Aside from that, your main issue is going to be dealing with all the mobile range. Pistolers trade very cost effectively against Dark Elf ranged cav and Markus can help make sure they stay in place with his nets. Handgunners are also good to get rid of their scarier units like Morathi and Malekith. If you want a lord that can actually fight if needed, Volkmar is great with some heavy cav as long as you can protect your ranged pieces. Generally Dark Elves like to go on the offensive, so you're the one who will have to turtle up with an unbreakable frontline and try to pick off all of the good targets that you can.
  • Dwarfs: Dwarves are the Empire turned up to eleven, which makes sense considering how much the Empire learned from the dwarves. Their artillery is better than yours, their infantry are stronger, and their lack of magic is made up for with their innate magic resistance. The Empire is faster, which can help, but high Dwarf leadership and melee defense means cycle-charging isn't a surefire strategy. Generally, you'll want to separate dwarf units, especially their ranged units from their melee units, and flank the former while occupying the latter's attention with a line of disposable Greatswords and the like. Huntsmen outrange dwarf ranged units, and can be used to good effect when skirmishing, while Outriders' high AP and speed make them very effective on larger maps. Forget Pistoliers, Archers, Swordsmen, and Spearmen; their low AP makes them useless against everything except Slayers.
  • Empire: As above, separate front- and backline units and take out the artillery. The Empire's variety of wizards presents a moderate challenge, requiring you to pay much more attention to positioning and movement of your ranged units if you want to get rid of them without excessive losses.
  • Grand Cathay:
  • Greenskins: Are you into kiting? If not, tough luck. Orcs just straight up walk all over your melee troops and Black Orcs and Trolls bring enough AP damage on their own to give your elite infantry a very hard time. You'll need to tarpit their slow, lubering advance long enough for your missle troops and artillery to shoot them to pieces. Helblasters and Hellstorm Rocket Batteries work wonders to thin out the green tide and Outriders can be a pain in the Greenskins arse to deal with since nothing they have is fast enough to catch them... until their ammo runs out, that is.
  • High Elves: THe only other roster to be as generalistic as yours, and believe it or not, you actually have a sizeable advantage. For one, none of your otherwise flimsy infantry is actually that bad against HE baseline options like Rangers or Spearmen due to bigger units and higher HP. Second, your artillery can seriously ruin the day of any units the High Elves can bring. And finally, any of your options is much more cost-effective in comparison; you can bring two units of Swordsmen for the price of one unit of HE Spearmen, and even one unit of Swordsmen can handily win against them. Their elite units have "shoot me" written all over them for your artillery and missile units, a request you should oblige.
  • Khorne:
  • Kislev:
  • Lizardmen: Use your artillery to devastate their infantry, use your gunners to hunt down their monsters, use your infantry only as a last resort if the Lizardmen close the distance. If they have Terradons, prioritize accordingly; Riders can be ignored, FireLeech Bolas can't. If you can shut down their speedier units (like Cold One Riders, Carnosaurs or Horned Ones), your cavalry can get some solid work done through some well placed cycle charges while keeping two steps ahead of the plodding lizards. In general, you'll want to have your forces in a relatively lose formation; between the Slann, Skink Priests and various AoE abilities at their beck and call, you don't want to lose half of your frontline to a Banishment or Chain Lightning cast, something they'll be able to toss about relatively frequently.
  • Norsca: The traditional foe of the Empire is vulnerable to being flanked, their access to Hounds not withstanding. Cavalry can be put to good use against Norscans as they close in on your forces, though the many units equipped with big shields in their army mean you'll have to micromanage your archers and gunners in battle. Your biggest challenge will be dealing with and clearing out the Norscan's faster units before their slower infantry and monsters crash against your lines, as many of their faster units are going to be very good at dodging artillery fire, and indeed at closing on your artillery crews.
  • Nurgle:
  • Ogre Kingdoms: This should be an easy matchup if you play it right. With Huntsmen, Markus Wulfheart, Great cannons, and Luminarks combined with the Ogres' relative lack of armor and shields, they will quickly be reduced to big, chunky corpses. As long as you watch out for Gnoblar Trappers, your missile cavalry will have a field day gunning down Ogres. Consider targeting Ogre artillery with yours due to the amount of damage they can do from afar and up close. Bring an anti-large frontline, but support it when melee is joined to make winning the close fight possible.
  • Skaven: Weapons Teams will slaughter your infantry if you let them. Use your artillery to outrange them, and use your heroes to clear out mobs of Stormvermin and Bombardiers. Empire infantry, ranged and melee, are much better than theirs, but beware their summoning abilities lest they destroy your firing line. Empire cavalry, particularly Pistoliers, can be useful if you don't have many heroes, but large Skaven units can bog them down easily after the latest cavalry/mass changes.
  • Slaanesh:
  • Tomb Kings: Target the Tomb Kings. Everything else, bar the Sphinxes and Scorpions, are a distraction and waste of ammunition. Use your infantry to bog them down and keep firing.
  • Vampire Coast: As with all undead factions, you should try to take down their leader as soon as you can. Leave your unarmored footmen at home; anyone without a shield will be shot to death in short order. Bring plenty of long range firepower and at least one or two Luminarks to take down the enemy monsters (prioritize Necrofex Colossi first, then Leviathans, then everything else). Pistoliers are a good choice for this army; most of the enemy infantry units have no armour to speak of. When picking magic support there really isn't a wrong answer for this matchup, but anything with a vortex will do great against large hordes of slow-moving enemies.
  • Tzeentch:
  • Vampire Counts: Target the Vampire Lords. If you can't, avoid wasting your precious ranged units' ammunition on chaff like skeletons and zombies and focus on the high-value targets: Heroes, Corpse Carts, Wraiths, and monsters. Don't bunch up your infantry too much; Vampire lores of magic are devastating to infantry blobs. Your best strategy is getting a Fire Wizard or 3 on pegasi, as the Vampire Counts have no ranged units.
  • Wood Elves: Their archers will outrange your gunpowder units, but they don't have anything that can quite contest your artillery. Thin their ranks with some Mortars or Helstorm Rocket Batteries and have Shielded Spearmen or Halberdiers screen against their cavalry or larger Forest Spirits. Speaking of which, the Luminarch of Hysh does disgusting damage to any (Ancient) Treemen stumbling across the battlefield, while a Bright Wizard can make kindling of any Dryads or Tree Kin on the field. Once they get closer, light them up with all manner of firepower. A majority of their roster is unarmored and generally unshielded; they'll take heavy losses. Take a care against their elite infantry; though squishy, they are veritable blenders who will make short work of your soldiers should they make it into melee.
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