Warhammer/Tactics/8th Edition/Empire

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Why Play Empire[edit]

One word: versatility. An Empire army can be built to suit almost any play style. You want to play magic-heavy? The Empire can do that. You like to go for anti-magic? Empire's got you covered. Want to do both? Nothing's stopping you. Do you make heavy use of infantry? Ranged units? Cavalry? Artillery? The Empire can do it all. If you're looking for options, this army has them in spades. The Empire's versatility has earned them the status as one of the most competitive armies in the entire game as they can counter pretty much everything everyone else can throw at you, without having to build their army list to do so. That same versatility though, means the Empire is not as strong in any one aspect. You will never have as many infantry as the Skaven, your artillery is not equal to might of the dwarfs', the high elves have more magical firepower and so on. The Empire can't fight fire with fire, and instead must fight rock, with paper while protecting its scissors.

Unit Analysis[edit]

Lords & Heroes[edit]

Named Characters[edit]

Note: Under the current edition, named characters tend to be overpriced; you can pretty easily emulate most named characters from scratch and save yourself some points. That said, a few named characters do have abilities and wargear or wargear combos unique to them, so if you absolutely need to have them, go ahead. Just make sure you're really getting your points worth.

(The new 8th Edition armybook updated the rules for named characters, so watch this space.)

  • Valten: New rules for Valten from the new Nagash Book; at a modest point cost compared to the new Mortarchs and other biggies he's facing, Valten is an excellent option. Though he starts off with no armour save, Valten has a 4+ ward save and the Chosen of Sigmar rule (like Luthor Huss: he can pass a Ld test to ignore the first unsaved wound that would remove him from play). Valten can also increase his WS, S, T and A characteristics by D3 (roll once for all four stats) once per game in a close combat phase. This is good but with only two hand weapons and no armour save it isn't as awesome an ability as it really could be; unless you purchase the upgraded set of equipment for Valten, providing him with the cavalry unit type, Movement 7, a +2 armour save and Ghal Maraz. (Ghal Maraz with the once-per-game ability to "power up" and Valten will annihilate almost any enemy. A powered-up Valten is one of only a handful of characters that can stand up to Nagash in a challenge provided he has some luck go his way with the D3 roll, while even the fabled "Blender" Vampire Lord will likely be butchered in record time). A very nice choice in a unit of Knights.
  • The Emperor Karl Franz: His Imperial Majesty is definitely one of the better named characters in the book. All of his hits automatically wound for D3 wounds (unless you're a complete moron and drop Ghal Maraz in favour of his Runefang), he comes with a 4+ ward save, Magic Resistance (2), is Immune to Psychology, and has Inspiring Presence with a better range than any other general you can field (18" instead of 12"). He is best fielded on foot or on horseback; Deathclaw and the Imperial Dragon aren't really worth the points unless you're getting them free from Storm of Magic. However, if you take either then the inspiring presence reaches a game-breaking 24.
    • Karl Franz Ascendant: in keeping with the trend towards huge, expensive monster characters in the End Times, the Empire now can field a roided-up version of the Emperor, imbued with the power of Sigmar (and steroids). He is treated as a single model with Deathclaw, so they can't be targeted separately. He has all the same gear and special rules as the standard Karl Franz + Deathclaw, except he is also Stubborn and carries an upgraded Ghal Maraz clone that does even more wounds. His stats (notably ten attacks at WS7, I7, not to mention S6 thunderstomp) combined with the Ghal Maraz clone make him a killing machine, able to easily nosh just about anything, even Nagash, the Glottkin, or entire units of monstrous infantry. He has both a solid armor save and ward save, as well as almost double the wounds of a non-GUO greater daemon. And for some reason, he was given the ability to cast an innate bound spell that functions like a short ranged Urannon's Thunderbolt which can possibly continue hitting the target, up to three times. If KFA has a downside, it's possibly his somewhat low T5 ("somewhat low" being relative, considering most of his other stats are 7+), and a points cost a little over 800 points. Like any other such monster, expect cannons to target him exclusively.
  • Kurt Helborg: The Grand Marshal of the Reiksguard wields a Runefang and carries Laurels of Victory, which doubles the value of the wounds he causes for the purposes of combat resolution. He also makes a unit of Reiksguard Immune to Psychology; this and +1 WS essentially costs you 25 points. Iffy, but he does come with 155 points worth of wargear, which is higher than the 100-point limit for generic Lords. MUSTACHE
  • Marius Leitdorf: Elector Count of Averland. He's from older editions, he's back, and he's here to go insane and charge that Hellcannon because he's convinced it's looking at him funny (to be fair, being a possessed cannon, it probably was looking at him funny). He's got a special rule, forcing him to take a leadership test on three dice, dropping the lowest, at the start of each of his turns. If he fails he goes nuts and does something random. Maybe all your units get a free instant reform, and then get to charge or shoot as they please! Maybe he pisses off Gork and Mork and gives Orcs & Goblins Hatred against him for the rest of the game! He's got a Runefang and an additional hand weapon that he gets to use even though he's mounted and got a Runefang. You're effectively paying 4 points for +1A, +1WS and his insanity. He is also dead, killed by an Orc warlord so apparently if you use him you are playing in a time machine (kinda the same for most all named Orc warlords, though.)
  • Ludwig Schwarzhelm: If his name is Schwarz (black) helm, how come his helmet's painted gold on the box? Anyway, Ludwig is a Battle Standard Bearer with a 20-point magic weapon and Killing Blow, making him another very solid named character choice. His Hold Your Ground has a radius of 18" and he can take wounds for the Emperor if they're both in the same unit, unless the Emperor is in a challenge.
    • If you mount Karl Franz in a Warhorse and place Ludwig in the same unit; you get the bodyguard benefit and the combination radius of Inspiring Presence, Hold Your Ground!, Hold the Line!, unit wide Magic Resistance (2) and +1 Combat Resolution (+2 if you include another Standard Bearer in the unit). Not game breaking, but very helpful and synergistic.
  • Markus Wulfhart: The Empire has a character archer now? Yeah, and he's kitted for hunting monsters, because apparently we didn't have enough men with giant brass balls. His Monster Hunter rule means he can reroll hits against monsters, always shoot monster mounts out from under characters, and taking him lets you buy a unit of Huntsmen in who get the same rule. He's also got his own magic longbow that always wounds monsters on a 4+ and does D3 wounds to them. Would be totally worth it if cannons didn't exist.
  • Grand Theogonist Volkmar: Fluff-wise, this guy makes Kaldor Draigo look like a whimp. Crunch-wise, not so much. A comparison between Volkmar and an Arch Lector means that you're spending 90 points for +1 WS, a +5 Regeneration save, a +1 to casting his prayers, and +2 Strength to attacks, but only so long as you take him on the War Altar and it hasn't been destroyed. Not worth it at all.
  • Luthor Huss: I see what you did there. Luthor is now the only Warrior Priest with the prayer "Unbending Righteousness", which makes his unit Stubborn for two rounds of combat. He also has a one use power which makes him even more of a beast in close combat. His points cost went down, but so did a basic Warrior Priest, and by the same amount. Still causes Fear, still has +1 WS over other Priests. In short, he's actually worth taking now, especially if you're in need of a mounted Warrior Priest that can handle a challenge.
  • Balthazar Gelt: Dude cheats people by giving them fake gold as payments and accidentally turned his own face to gold. A Wizard Lord of the Gold Order who knows every Metal spell, has a 3+ ward save against shooting, magic resistance 1 (which increases one point for every enemy wizard beyond the first, up to magic resistance 3), a staff that gives a +2 bonus, and is mounted on a Pegasus. +6(!) to cast on any Metal spell is a very nice boost which helps you conserve power dice. Good, but would be a lot better with a different Lore (say, Life). Also quite expensive at 360 pts.
    • Balthazar Gelt, Incarnate of Metal: This guy is metal, both literally and figuratively. New version merged with his pegasus for End Times Archaon. For 115 more points, Gelt can now be a LEVEL 5 METAL LOREMASTER (The only one at that.) with an Innate Bound Augment spell (Casting 10+) that can teleport himself and/or d3 friendly units within 18" off the table for a turn. On Gelt's next turn, they all deep strike anywhere so long as the units are in formation and not within 1" of any units or impassible terrain. The guests now suffer d6-1 unsavable wounds and are now pointing where you need them to, which makes this spell a risky, RISKY proposition. Defensively, he only has 6+ armor, but has a snazzy 3+ Ward against shots (Upped to 2+ against flaming attacks), Magic Resistance (3) all the time, and jeeps his +2 to casting. Issue is that he's still in a very situational lore, and his new spell can easily mess up a fighting force you were teleporting alongside Gelt. Also, he's still insanely expensive.
  • Elspeth von Draken (Forgeworld): A Ld 9 Wizard Lord who knows every Death spell, mounted on a Carmine Dragon.

Generic Characters[edit]

Note: While named characters are judged against their generic counterparts, generic characters are examined based on their role in your army.

  • General of the Empire: Has very good attack capabilities and gives his unit Lizardmen style Leadership against Break tests.
  • Grand Master: Pretty much a General with a barded warhorse and a better statline. You can only take him if you have a unit of Knightly Orders to go with him (NOT TRUE - NO RESTRICTION ON LORD SELECTION). Also doesn't have the Hold the Line rule that the General has, but he has Immune to Psychology, which he can share with with a unit of Knightly Orders or Hippogryph Knights that he's joined, which is why he's generally not worth the additional 27 points he costs over the identically-equipped General unless you've got Knights in your army.
  • Arch Lector of Sigmar: A souped-up version of the Warrior Priest. Not as good as he used to be, but still worth taking.
War Altar of Sigmar: The War Altar now bestows a 6" bubble of Hatred and any active prayers from the Arch Lector, and can cast Banishment once a turn. Not as awesome as it was in 7th Edition, but a very good force multiplier if deployed correctly.
  • Wizard Lord: Gives you all the fun you can expect from magic-users. At the very least, upgrade him to level 4. A Wizard Lord using the Lore of Beasts can take a griffon as a mount.
  • Captain of the Empire: This guy is your Battle Standard Bearer and is therefore absolutely mandatory to take unless you're grabbing Ludwig instead. Like the General, he gives Lizardmen style Leadership to his unit against Break tests.
  • Warrior Priest of Sigmar: All sorts of goodness wrapped up into a zealoty bundle. Channels power dice like wizards, gives any unit he joins Hatred, and can cast prayers that can give the unit he's in rerolls to wound, a 5+ ward save, or flaming weapons. Taking one for every major melee unit would be ideal, unless you're taking an Arch Lector on the War Altar.
  • Battle Wizard: While being lower level and therefore less useful than a Wizard Lord, you can also take nearly three of him for the same price. Again, upgrade him to level 2 and use him as a scroll caddy.
  • Witch Hunter: This guy buys you Magic Resistance 2 and a small boost against Terror for a unit, and a character assassin who works just as well with his pistol as up close. And he's cheap, too. Ridiculously cheap. Take these guys, and send them after whoever your opponent's most important character is. Be warned, the only model you can buy him in is Failcast, and his model is both incredibly prone to bubbles (Oh Boy) and includes a sword which is always bent beyond usability in the casting process. (Double oh Boy) - Use Battle Wizard plastic and attach pistols arms
  • Master Engineer: You want him for his ability to reroll artillery dice once per turn; the errata states that you don't have to have him join the crew to gain this ability, and you can use it on all artillery on top of that, which wasn't allowed in 7th Edition. Leave his toys at home. Try putting him on a hellblaster and watch as this one gun destroys an entire unit of whatever the hell takes your fancy.take that, Skaven.


All the mounts available to the generic Heroes and Lords above.

  • Griffon: A Flying, Large target that causes Terror. Can be upgraded to have Bloodroar (the enemy rolls 3D6 dice when taking a Fear/Terror test, discarding the lowest result. Inverse Cold Blooded/Hold the Line! if you will), and Two Heads (make a separate chomp attack that gains +1 to hit when resolved against Large Targets). Generally quite handy, but isn't as good as other race's equivalents.
  • The Imperial Dragon: It's a dragon. What do you expect? Has a S4 Breath Weapon alongside WS/S/T/W6. Karl Franz' alternate option for a mount. Keep away from Dwarf-poleon like the plague. Will also jack up Karl Franz' price so that you have to declare end times to use it, and if you're playing End Times...take Karl Franz Ascendant, damn you!
  • Imperial Pegasus: My Little Pony, My Little Pony, My-ah-ah Shut the fuck up. Can be upgraded to either re-roll failed wounds when Stomping, and/or re-roll 1s when determining your charge distances.
  • Mechanical Steed: Causes D3 Impact hits at S4, and is Movement 7 base. Problem is, it's stricken with the Unreliable rule. At the start of the movement phase, roll a D6. On a roll of a 1, you subtract D3" from its movement characteristic for the rest of the game, all the way down to 1. And yes, you can repeatedly roll 1s and shut down the mechanism further. Only available to Master Engineers which means that you're either running him on his own for some strange reason, want the glorious charge as the unit coming to attack instantly tears you to shreds, or have found a war machine that can wiz around long distances while shooting because you've decided rules are just too dull.
  • Warhorse: Standard mount. Useful for joining Reiksguard, Pistoleers, and the like. Hilariously, the mount options say it's M3, while everywhere else in the rules it's M8. Definitely a misprint, and don't be fooled if your opponent says otherwise (you need a new opponent in that case).

Core Units[edit]

  • State Troops: These guys will probably end up being the backbone of your army, and are fully integrated into the Detachments system. They come in six flavors:
    • Halberdiers: Halberdiers give you +1 Strength to your attacks, which makes them ideal for detachments so they can get into your opponent's juicy flanks. Taking shields isn't worth it; halberds are two-handed, so the shields can't be used in the Combat phase. These and spearmen are your typical 50 man horde unit.
    • Spearmen: Spearmen let you fight with an extra rank, so these make natural parent units. Shields are generally worth it for a 5+ save, giving them some survivability at the cost of a parry save.
    • Swordsmen: Swordsmen give you +1 WS and a shield, which increases their hardiness. They can be used either as the parent unit or a detachment, generally geared towards the former.
    • Handgunners: Handgunners give you Armor Piercing and a unit leader with access to a Hochland Long Rifle, which lets him aim separately and snipe your opponent's characters; a repeater handgun, which adds two more shots to the gunline's massed fire; or a brace of pistols with too short a range on a melee-averse unit (pfft). They're Move or Shoot, so take care where you deploy them, since they shouldn't be moving around much. Can be used either as a parent unit or a detachment, and should be kept small, no more than 10-15 models in each unit.
    • Crossbowmen: Trades Armor Piercing for an extra 6" range. The loss of the specialty guns means you're probably better off with Handgunners unless you're taking a whole boatload of them and try to blast as much of your opponents army on the first turn. They are still Strength 4 though, good for punching elves off their dainty little feet.
    • Archers: Instead of Armor Piercing or extra reach, Archers have Volley Fire, so the guys in the back rows will be more useful than ablative armor. Still not all that useful here, because why would you be deploying your ranged units in more than two ranks to begin with? More usefully, they can move and fire during the same turn, which makes them more responsive to enemy developments, and they're considerably cheaper than Handgunners or Crossbowmen. Can be used either as a parent unit or a detachment.
  • Free Company Militia: Wielding two weapons and without armor, these guys will live fast and die young. If you take them, remember that. You can field militia units as detachments, but they cannot be parent units.
  • Knightly Orders: Cavalry ain't what it used to be, so if you take them, take a dozen or more in a unit. Can be upgraded to Knights of the Inner Circle for +3 points each, which gives them Strength 4, but you can only take one unit of them in your army. Come in two flavors:
    • Knights Panther/Knights of the Blazing Sun: Come with a shield and lance, which bumps their armor save up to 1+, and they get a +2 Strength bonus on the charge.
    • Knights of the White Wolf: Fluffwise: AWW HELL TO THE YES! They are Vikings with greathammers from the deep forests of Middenland, what's not to love?. They are the closest you'll get to vikings in an Empire army. To become a Knight of the White Wolf you have have to kill a wolf with your bare hands and skin it. They wear no helmets, 'cause they are just that awesome. They wear the fur of the skinned wolf on their armor, so they look pretty badass. Crunchwise: No thank you. They come without shields, so they lose that 1+ armor save, and because they're wielding great weapons, they hit last. Sometimes that doesn't make much difference but sometimes it really will. Especially for a hard hitting and fairly expensive unit it just sucks to occasionally get hacked apart before they even get to strike. If your taking them for fluff in your Middenland army, you maybe should consider Knights Panther. They fill the fluff equally good. But lets not be all negative; they might hit last, but keep the Strength bonus throughout the combat (and the combat will almost certainly take more than one turn) and if you're up against something that's going to hit before you anyway you may as well hit hard. But I'd still say that you should go with Knights Panther/Knights of the Blazing Sun.

Special Units[edit]

  • Greatswords: Come equipped with greatswords (duh), full plate armor, and are Stubborn. Make a great tarpit or anchor for your army. They can also take detachments, and can now take a magic banner. Take thirty or more. And take detachments; Stubborn transfers to them too now, but remember that the detachments' points will count against your Special Units allowance even though their unit type is Core.
  • Reiksguard Knights: They're their own unit now! They're basically statted out like Inner Circle knights with lances and shields, but now they're Stubborn naturally. That's right, Stubborn knights with 1+ armor. The Bretonnians are weeping with envy right now. Stubborn only costs them pennies more per man than regular Inner Circle knights, so they're totally worth it. Alternate View - They're more expensive than inner circle, and use special -which is limited- rather than core -which you want- for stubborn, for most, this isn't bad, but bear in mind that they are lance cav, this means they are strong in only really one round, and these guys can't take great weapons, so is it really even benefitting you that much? Yes, they do. Take them in 5 man units and they make a great tarpit, which can also kill something.
  • Pistoliers: Young nobles dual-wielding pistols. They can be a massive thorn in your opponent's flank, especially because they're Quick to fire and are Fast Cavalry. A pretty reliable fire-magnet. (Would be useful if they were core)
  • Outriders: These can unleash the same amount of firepower as a regular gunline, and trades safety in numbers for mobility (like Pistoliers, they're Fast Cavalry). The Outrider Champion gives you the option of taking the Grenade Launching Blunderbuss... Since they lost the option of the Hochland Long Rifle, the old Super Sniper strategy is gone. Try to get behind your opponent's army and shoot him up the strap.
  • Huntsmen: Dirt cheap archers with Scout. Not part of the detachment system at all. If Markus Wulfhart is in your army, you can buy a unit of these guys who are also Monster Hunters.
  • Demigryph Knights: The Empire finally got its invitation to the Monstrous Cavalry party.A phenomenally good value hammer unit. They have excellent survivability and will chew through rank and file infantry. Buffing them with Light magic makes for a virtually unstoppable unit. Three wounds, three WS4 S5 Armor Piercing attacks from the mount (the rider is a regular Inner Circle knight), Fear, Stomp, all that goodness. Can take either a lance and shield or halberds. Always pick lances, the knights aren't there to kill, the demigryphs are, just keep the armour.
  • Flagellant Warband: Pretty expensive for infantry but man, can these crazy bastards dish out the hate. They're Unbreakable, they have Frenzy, and you can martyr some of the models to regain charge bonuses. A big block of these will create a tarpit like no other but are expensive and very much a glass cannon. Also they have some rather appealing or appalling (your choice) facial hair for the most part.
  • Great Cannon: Hell yes. If you're good with your aiming, you can snipe monstrous creatures and characters with it. Goes 'splodey (you're playing Empire; get used to it). An amazing deal for 120 points and really no Empire army should go without at least 1 cannon.
  • Mortar: Unreliable and low Strength, but they do cover a large area. You might be better off with the Helstorm now. Alternate view - the previous version of these was kind of broken, so their points were increased and their S was lowered. They are now stone throwers with the large blast, S2 AP (S6 AP, D3 wounds for whatever is directly under the hole). These won't do much against an MSU Chaos Warrior army, but against hordes of gobbos or skavens, or even the High Elf "World Dragon" death star (unless it's White Lions, or has Alarielle casting High Magic, or both- in which case, your opponent is an asshole), it'll thin them out. And if you happen to have Lore of Shadow and Wither the target's T, all the better. Certainly not as flashy as the Helblaster or Great Cannon, but shouldn't be totally dismissed either

Rare Units[edit]

  • Helblaster Volley Gun: Oh man. The Helblaster does three artillery dice worth of Strength 5 shots with Armor Piercing. If you roll a misfire, you lose half your shots. If you roll two misfires, you roll on the Black Powder misfire chart. If you roll three misfires, it goes out in a blaze of glory, giving you 30 shots before being taken off the table. Often when taking helblasters it is a no brainer to take an engineer to sit beside it. Makes for a low chance of error and high chance for lots of shots, plus a welcome BS boost.
    • Extra Note It can be used as a defensive threat because it is rare a player will go within its 24" range, so it is good for protecting a flank, I would like to point out that in my opinion unless you've filled your rare with steam tanks then you should always take this.
  • Helstorm Rocket Battery: The gun is named "Helstorm" not for its attack, but from the outburst of profanity from the Elector Count of Middenheim at the engineer that almost accidentally killed him; that should tell you something about its accuracy. The Helstorm fires d3 small blast templates and then scatters them like a stone thrower, always firing indirectly. It could be hilarious against hordes.
  • Steam Tank: The Steam Tank is awesome. A 1+ armor save with T6, 10W, and up to 3 D6 random movement makes this guy look very scary to your opponent. The more wounds you take the more likely you are to hurt yourself, but if done right it can still be effective with 1 wound. Though at that point I'd rather just blow myself and everyone around me to smithereens. At only 250 pts. this guy can hold up double its worth. Oh, did I mention the extra cannon? Just don't hurt yourself too much, or you'll be inching across the table. Steam tank is better overall and safer to use in 8th Ed.
    • Note: When in melee combat, do not forget the attacks from the engineer. Is it a reliable source of damage? Heck no! But driving closer to those Chaos Warriors to hit them with your scepter will earn respect knuckles from your opponent. Plus, that one time you bash in their skull will be hilarious. Take THAT, meathead!
    • Extra note: This player has noticed that a Life wizard close to the steam tank multiplies it's strength. The lore rule of life can heal wounds to any miniature at 12´´ including the steam tank, and the Resurrection spell also recovers wounds to it. Having empire you're going to take a Life wizard anyway; so if the steam tank has cracks, just move close (12´´, not THAT close anyway)the medic to him and start roll over and crush them once again.
      • Extra extra note: Regrowth "recovers D3+1 Wounds' worth of models slain earlier in the battle" ( this has been changed to wounds in the BRB FAQ)
        • Counter-Point When it talks about models with multiple wounds, first you heal the wounded model, then it involves the stuff about that many wounds worth of models.
  • Luminark of Hysh: Gives a 6+ ward save in a 6" bubble, adds a dispel die, and fires a Strength 8 multiple-wound magic missile that goes through units like a bolt thrower. Can be used as a mount by a Wizard Lord using the Lore of Light.
  • Celestial Hurricanum: Gives a +1 bonus to hit in close combat in a 6" bubble, adds a power die, and dumps a random storm on an enemy using the small blast template. Can be used as a mount by a Wizard Lord using the Lore of Heavens. Random storm isn't that great and is a low level bound spell so often easily dispelled, bought more for its +1 to hit bubble and free power dice. For an expensive but potentially fun combo, try fielding one alongside a War Altar, and stick them right around your main battle units to benefit from Hatred and +1 to hit (plus the arch lector's spells).

Magic Items/Upgrades[edit]

RIP the days where armies had a plethora of unique magic items to choose from. Denizens of the empire now get a total of 9.

  • Runefang: 85 points. A Sword that auto-wounds, no armor saves allowed in case you wanted to call your commander "Count" instead of "General". A much more impressive (and expensive) sword than the Obsidian Blade, but rightfully so.
  • Mace of Helstrum: 50 points. Two-handed, Always Strike Last weapon. You can trade all your attacks for a single S10 hit that has the Flaming Attack and Multiple Wounds (D3) special rules. This will make a skaven player fielding the hell pit abomination cry, not only will you be able to deal upto 3 wounds but you will also strip it of it's annoying regeneration. That is, if your near-naked lord survives the abomination attack. Hint: snipe those with the cannons
  • Armor of Meteoric Iron: 50 points. 1+ Armor save, and 6+ Ward Save. The 1+ is very impressive, but 6+ Ward is not. Take a Talisman of Preservation if you want a good Ward, since 1+ armor may be good, but any challenge character in another army will likely be S6 or higher, inflicting -3 modifier on your save. And that's assuming no Armor piercing special rules. Or consider taking the dawns tone for half the cost which allows him to reroll his armour saves, assuming that the enemy is s6 3+ rerollable is much better than 3+ 4++
  • Helm of the Skaven Slayer: 15 points. Causes Fear, and if playing against Skaven, it causes Terror. But, all Skaven gain the Hatred special rule when attacking the unit containing the bearer.
  • The White Cloak of Ulric: 50 points. Enemies in base contact with bearer have -1 to hit. Also, confers 5++ which becomes 2++ if you're attacked by a Flaming weapon. Awesome against Flame breath weapon dragons and the like, and Tzeentch daemons.
  • Van Horstmann's Speculum: 40 points. When in a challenge, you swap all (not pick and choose, you must swap all) characteristics with your challenger. Hilarious when you steal a Vampire Lord's characteristics when you challenge him with a mere Empire Battle Wizard.
  • Ring of Volans: 30 points. One use only. Choose 1 spell from any of the 8 Rulebook lores and generate a spell as if the bearer was a Level 1 Wizard. The Spell can be cast just like a bound spell, with a power level equal to the normal casting value.
  • Griffon Banner: 60 points. Your extra rank bonuses are doubled. However, you can never pursue an enemy and must ALWAYS hold their ground when being charged. Hint: you cannot purse, but your detachments are free to do so.
  • Steel Standard: 35 points. You ignore any negative movement penalties for barding an re-roll 1s when determining charging, fleeing, or pursuing distance. Awesome way of quickly catching up to enemies.

First off, you need to properly kit out a champion to handle challenges; most armies you'll face are likely to have a champion bigger and nastier than yours. In order to survive and thrive in challenges, a character will need three things:

  • A good weapon. Good choices are the Runefang (15 points cheaper now), the Mace of Helsturm (sort of a Ghal Maraz-lite) and the Ogre Blade (+2 Strength). If you're looking for something more economical, and the Sword of Anti-Heroes can be awesome if your opponents are still playing Herohammer.
  • Good Armor. The Armor of Meteoric Iron gives a 1+ armor save and a 6+ ward save. Armor of Silvered Steel and the Armor of Fortune are also good choices.
  • Take the Talisman of Preservation or the White Cloak of Ulric to make a character harder to deal with, especially if you're taking a Templar Grand Master or something equally nasty.
  • My suggestion on a grandmaster is: Ogre blade, Talisman of preservation, full plate armour, shield, barbed horse. This will give him a 1+ armour save 4++ ward and strength 6 on every round of combat.

Magic banners will help you out tremendously. The Griffon Banner is great if you can afford it, while the Steel Standard has your knights ignore barding penalties and allows them to reroll 1s for movement. The best banner for its points, however, is the Standard of Discipline. It boosts the Leadership of the unit it's in at the cost of using your general's Inspiring Presence; however, this downside is negated completely (and then some) if you put the general in that unit.

Some character in your army has to take an enchanted shield, its 5 damn points for +2 to armour! A no brainer choice.

Building Your Army[edit]

Buying Your Army[edit]

If you're building a well-rounded army that has something of everything, 2-3 Battalion boxes should form the core of your army; then add Special/Rare units to your personal taste.

Magnetize your artillery so you can swap between cannons and mortars and between Helblasters and Helstorms.

The General and Wizard boxes both give you two characters for the price of one and are a converter's dream come true.

The Celestial Hurricaneum/Luminark of Hysh box comes with a wizard model (Lore of Heavens or Light) which is not compatible with the Wizard box models.

The Karl Franz on Deathwing box comes with an alternative Lore of Beasts Wizard and a General model as riders. With some fiddling you can fit them on an ordinary warhorse instead of a gryphon.

PS: Most empire units can be proxied (not in GW) by using other companies models. Both Mantic and warlord games do models that have a similar look whilst being A LOT cheaper. I repeat however- try and do this in GW and you WILL be thrown out.

Army Composition[edit]

This is largely a matter of personal preference, but keep two things in mind:

  • Size matters. Most of your army is going to be Strength 3, Toughness 3, so melee units need to be big in order to have staying power. One unit of 30 State Troops is a lot harder to break than two units of 15.
  • Don't go overboard on Lords & Heroes. The days of Herohammer are dead and gone, probably forever (Not anymore thanks to end times). Another block of infantry/cavalry/whatever is a lot more useful than a superfluous character that only makes for easy kill points. Only take characters if you have a specific role for them to fill in your army. Generally speaking, you shouldn't have more than two or three characters unless your army is magic- and/or anti-magic-heavy (i.e. you've got a bunch of wizards and/or Warrior Priests running around).


The Empire is one of the few armies to get access to all eight Lores of Magic. Almost all are of at least solid use because pretty much all buffs and hexes are valuable to army that's mostly made up of mediocre infantry and all damage spells are welcome too even if you'll never blast the opponent off the table. Still some lores are definitely play better.

Good choices are:

  • Life: Throne of Vines lets you ignore all miscasts from Life wizards on a 2+ (this includes a miscast from casting ToV itself, so go for broke) and beefs up the rest of your spells, Regrowth brings back dead models, Flesh to Stone and Shield of Thorns are welcome buffs, and The Dwellers Below makes all models in a targeted unit make a Strength test or be killed entirely, And every time you successfully cast, you heal a wound, which can be on any model within 12".


  • Metal: A good choice, but only comes into its own against enemies with high armor values (Warriors of Chaos, Bretonnians, other Empire armies, and so on). Casting Plague of Rust on Skinks or Clanrats is a waste of time, and the lore attribute means that direct damage and magic missiles are less powerful the less armor their targets have. On the other hand, all damage spells ignore armor saves, and the augments it offers are fine in their own right.

  • Light: Gives you a lot of very nice buffs (Speed of Light is a godsend should your opponent get into your artillery) and debuffs (particularly Net of Amyntok). A particularly nasty combo (if you can get it off) is Speed of Light and Birona's Timewarp, which together will make your Greatswords/knights with greatweapons hit like Frenzied High Elf Swordmasters. A very good lore, especially considering the fact that it's statistically the easiest lore to cast.

  • Death: Four words: Purple Sun of Xereus. Also has very good buffs and debuffs, though you've got to be pretty close to an enemy for the latter.

  • Shadow: Has a lot of very good debuffs and can make one guy a flier, but you really want this Lore for Okkam's Mindrazor, which replaces a unit's Strength score with its Leadership when rolling to wound, which means that the unit you cast it on will essentially have at least 7 Strength(!) in close combat. Cast it on your Knights, Greatswords or Flagellants and swing for the bleachers. This is statistically the hardest lore to cast, so make sure to give it to a level 4 Wizard Lord.

  • Heaven:One of the best lores for an all cavalry Empire Army. Harmonic let you reroll 1s for to hit, to wound and armour saves which is really useful when you will find yourself with 2+ to wound and 2+ as alot of times. Use a lvl4 and a lvl1 wizard for that double iceshard which gives -2 hit which goes along way when charging high strenght units and -2 to ld which is really useful when charging steadfast units. Thunderbolt and Chain lightning is decent for taking out MSU armies and Comet can help you against corner armies aswell as controlling the movement of MSU armies. All the spells are cast at a decent cost which allows you to attempt several spells compared to life, which gives your opponent a dilemma when he have to prioritize which spells to let through. Also, heaven spells have good range so you can keep your wizard in the back protected by f.ex. archers. This lore is highly underrated. Downside is that it requires some practice to use.

If you take direct damage spells (especially magic missiles) with the notion of blasting your enemy to kingdom come, you're setting yourself up for disappointment. Buffs and debuffs are where it's at, and you'll notice that what all of the Lores recommended above have in common are good buffs, good debuffs and one Spell of Horde Buggery.

That being said, Empire do have access to...

  • Fire: Fireballs, buffs, flame storms and more can allow you to seriously hurt enemy lines and even wipe them out entirely with luck or support from a gun line


Fighting challenges: Most armies are going to challenge your heroes every chance they get, so make sure you either have a unit champion to feed to that Vampire/Chaos Lord or have your hero kitted out for fighting these combat monsters. There are some common stats to expect from these kind of heroes so plan for: WS/T/S/I of at least 4, most likely 5 or even higher, at least 4 attacks and probably re-rolls for something (most often to hit), in most cases you will be looking at a 2+ or 3+ save as well. On the other hand you can probably afford 2 heroes for every one of theirs. Most of the time all you can do is deny them kills and combat resolution so kitting your heroes to survive the stupid numbers of attacks likely to be inflicted on him is a good direction to take as normal troops would probably just get minced. Also remember that challenges aren't your only option for handling heroes. Your goal isn't just to kill them (although if you can it's generally good) it's simply to stop them fulfilling their role. With so many points tied up in a challenge lord, simply deploying well can give you a nice edge, making the opponent march down your cannon's throat if he wants to charge your general. Honour and valour are for Bretonians, the empire fights to win not to play a losing game of who's got the pimpest general.

Detachment use: If you're using detachments (and you probably should), you need to learn the detachment rules by heart so you always know what they can and can't do in a given situation.

The Good:
  • Melee detachments can make a counter charge.
  • Ranged detachments can make a Stand and Shoot action at no penalty if their parent unit is charged.
  • Detachments get any special rules that their parent unit possesses, as well as any prayers from Warrior Priests. Moreover, the FAQ has ruled that detachments use the ranks of the parent unit for determining Steadfast, even if it isn't in combat.
The Bad:
  • Detachments cannot take command models, so no Hochland Long Rifle in a detachment of Handgunners.
  • Detachments lose their special abilities if they are more than 3" away from their parent unit.
  • Detachments cause Panic now.
  • Parent units do not get to react like detachments do, so a smart opponent will either just charge the detachment instead or tie it up with a chaff unit unless you can give him a good reason not to.
The Ugly:
  • Detachments can take up a lot of valuable real estate during deployment, and can't be placed in reserve unless the parent unit is in reserve as well.

Take the high ground: In real life, placing artillery on the highest position available gives you an unparalleled vantage point over your enemy, and the same is true in Warhammer. Placing your artillery on a hill behind your troops means that you can fire over them without giving your target hard cover (this is less important for mortars and Helstorms, which fire indirectly). However, do NOT put your artillery in a building if your opponent has artillery of his own or high-Strength units he can bring to bear on it; every model in the building takes multiple wounds, which can wreak havoc on artillery.

Homing Rockets: Take a Helstorm Rocket Volley with a Great Engineer. The artillery die reroll can apparently be used on the Helstorm now, as well as the engineer's BS. Bulls-eyes with 4" scatter or less means you can do 21 hits on a unit per rocket, for a maximum of 63(!). Use the reroll wisely, though; you do increase the chances of a misfire. It's best to reroll misfires (duh) and 10s, 8s if you feel lucky. If you roll a 6, just hope for bulls-eyes for a 2" scatter (unless you get three rockets, in which case you might want to go for it).

Homing Fireball: A funny thing you can do is buy a Witch Hunter a Ruby Ring of Ruin and according to the most recent FAQ their Killing Blow ability applies to shooting spells as well. Hit someone with a Killing Blow Fireball.

Kill the Witch: Fill your Hero allotment with Witch Hunters. Walk forward every turn, shooting merrily. Kill all of your opponent's characters this way. Put a Warrior Priest in the same unit, and have him cast Hammer of Sigmar to give the Witch Hunters rerolls to wound in close combat, or Soulfire to make all ranged attacks Flaming. Combine with Enchanted Blades of Aiban/Flaming Sword of Rhuin for even more cheese.

Karl and Friends: Synergy unit, needs skilled use of artillery support and at full placement only can be done in 3000+ games. Karl Franz, Ludwig Schwarzhelm, Kurt Helborg, Luthor Huss and Valten in an unit of Reiksguard Knights with a Magic Banner (Steel Standard, War Banner). The unit has mobility, damage output, damage resistance and passes all Leadership tests with:

  • Inspiring Presence
  • Hold Your Ground!
  • Hold the Line!
  • Immune to Psychology
  • Stubborn
  • Magic Resistance (2)
  • +2 Combat Resolution (+3 with War Banner)
  • One turn Battle Prayer effects: Flaming Attacks, 5+ Ward in close combat or Reroll to Wound. Why one turn effects? To gain flexibility and avoid permanent Flaming Attacks that makes the unit useless against a 2+ fire ward.

Put a Level 4 Wizard Lord (Life, Light, Shadow) with Staff of Sorcery (See FAQ) in another unit for protection from spells like Dwellers Below or Purple Sun. The rest of the army is Steam Tanks, Great Cannons, Witch Hunters, Warrior Priests and Knights units of all types excluding Reiksguard; keep the Wizard Lord in dispel/buff/debuff mode, get a second Wizard (Beasts, Level 1) with a Dispel Scroll to buff your units. Combine this tactic with the previously listed tactics (Take the high ground, Kill the Witch, Homing Rockets, Homing Fireball, etc).

The Gunline: Yes this tactic is pure cheese but its not illegal. Basically replace all state troops with Handgunners (think American revolution or Napoleonic wars). A block of 10 handgunners with another block right next to them, repeat until gun line is formed. Great Cannons on each side of the gunline to fire diagonally from each corner when your opponents troops move in to engage your gunline and grape shot anyone who wants to engage your cannons. Have some mounted pistoleers behind your gunline to fire over your gunners heads or to charge anyone who make it to your gunline and sweep up all those routing units.

Pike and shot: This may be a bit obvious, but combing a parent block of spear men with two hand gunner detachments (aside form being historically accurate No they used Pikes not spears, the hint is in the name Eh, close enough) can be devastating. no one wants to charge spear men, but the hand gunners are the bait to make them want to try. if some one trys to run the hand gunners off while avoiding the spear men, intercept them with small blocks of infantry to give your spear men time to get into position. 5 Halberds should be at each of your flanks to charge anyone AFTER they engage your spear block.

Warhammer Fantasy Tactics Articles
Forces of Order: BretonniaDwarfsEmpireHigh ElvesLizardmenWood Elves
Non-Aligned Forces: OgresTomb Kings
Forces of Destruction: BeastmenDaemonsDark ElvesOrcs & GoblinsSkavenVampiresWarriors of ChaosChaos Dwarfs