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View Full Version : Empire Spearmen: does anybody really use them?



sigmareite@hotmail.com
21-02-2008, 04:55
Does anybody really use spearmen as parent units? It seems to me that they are pretty useless. Unless they are holding something. Militia seem like a better choice. I do use spearmen as a parent unit, but only because I got them with the 6th edition starter set and I refuse to buy 20 plastic soldiers for $44.00.

catbarf
21-02-2008, 11:47
Spearmen are pretty useless. Swordsmen are easily the best State Troop for a parent regiment, and Free Company, Swordsmen, and Halberdiers are equally valid for detachments.

Curufew
21-02-2008, 11:50
Well I use them together with a Warrior Priest. Don't kill stuff much but get kill a lot in return. The reason I use them is because I like the models.

badgeraddict
21-02-2008, 14:40
I love the Spearmen. I use a parent unit, 30 strong. Yeah you read right 30 strong. 6 wide. This unit never lets me down, it takes the full flak of the enemies shooting and still managed to get into combat and do very well. Throw a 'Pope' into the unit and it becomes quite the threat. I also like to stick a BSB in there with a Griffon Banner, thats always funny!

I also use a 10 man detachment for supporting my Great Swords.

I use the old models because they cleary 'win'

Commissar Vaughn
21-02-2008, 15:02
I alwasy prefered halberdiers. which is why I have over 100 of them with swordsmen detachments...

Helgrund
21-02-2008, 15:14
Spearmen are pretty useless. Swordsmen are easily the best State Troop for a parent regiment, and Free Company, Swordsmen, and Halberdiers are equally valid for detachments.

I do not agree with this at all. I think against certain troop types the spearmen do better and for cheaper. A WP allows for more rerolls which Im sure does better than he does for swords (I left my math hammer at home).

Besides, there is the argument of combat potential. While you may not rely on wounds caused to win combat, spearmen can cause more wounds. If you go into combat with a unit that has more static res then you have at least more potential to make the difference.

Swordmen may do better at damage limitation and on average you lose by less, but then you never gave yourself the chance to win.

ZeroTwentythree
21-02-2008, 15:15
Does anybody really use spearmen as parent units? It seems to me that they are pretty useless. Unless they are holding something. Militia seem like a better choice. I do use spearmen as a parent unit, but only because I got them with the 6th edition starter set and I refuse to buy 20 plastic soldiers for $44.00.



IIRC, militia/free co. can't be used as a "parent" unit (can't have detachments), so that alone would make spearmen a better choice. As others have pointed out, swordsmen are generally considered better than either, however.

Johnnyfrej
21-02-2008, 23:26
It all depends on what foe you are facing. Against skaven for instance, it is tactically impractical to not use spearman. Against large units of T3 clanrats and slaves (as well as a solid majority of the rest of the skaven list) it is much more useful for the extra attacks with Spearman vs. Swordsmen, GS and Halberdiers. This also works for O@G and any other large units of T3 or even 4 infantry. Now against elitist armies (like lizardmen, chaos, orges) with high WS and T, it might be better to have swordsmen or halberdiers for the extra A and +4 or the +1 Str and ASF that halberds give. Basically, it all depends on your opponent.

-Private Jon

DrDogmeat
21-02-2008, 23:38
$44.00 is expensive, can't you find them cheaper anywhere?

kroq'gar
21-02-2008, 23:44
increase the length of the spears and use them as a DOW pike regiment (which fits very well into the empire as an elite regiment).

Spearmen shouldnt really be there, should be halberdiers, first rank fight +1st, second rank count as spears (im sick of the 'mainstay' of the empire military being religated to detachments or not fielded at all). Besides, its inline with every bit of fluff and artwork regarding halberdiers.

scarletsquig
22-02-2008, 00:02
Spearmen are definitely not useless. Most of the people saying that are internet armchair experts who have never used them properly in a game.

They are statistically better against T3, low armour troops than swordsmen when receiving a charge (something which is good to do with the detachment rules).

A warrior priest really boosts the effectiveness, since his hatred re-rolls apply to twice as many attacks as they would in a swordsmen unit.

A 29-strong unit with shields and a warrior priest is a great flexible unit that can be expanded to fight 7-wide with spears when fighting normal troops and contracted to 5-wide with hand weapon + shield when fighting heavily armoured/ high toughness troops.

They're a tactically flexible unit that's well worth taking. They are *not* halberdiers (which are useless as main blocks).

The "swordsmen or it's useless" mantra is probably the biggest widely-spread false internet "fact" out there as far as empire tactics go.

Leogun_91
22-02-2008, 07:30
I will use them (have just started an empire army and intend to get at least 30 of each state troop unit) but I think I will favor halebeardies and swordsmen as I wan´t at least one characteristic to be average (and I regard average as 4 even if 3 fits the standard better).

blurred
22-02-2008, 08:04
Occasionally I use a unit of 25 with a warrior priest or an arch lector. They are not particularly good, but I don't want to use two units of swordsmen in my army.

Against most troops spearmen are pretty awful, even if the opponent has low toughness and even if they hate the enemy.

EDIT: Just some number crunching for the fun of it
A unit of 28 Spearmen (7*4, shields) with a warrior priest attack 30 clanrats (5*6, shields):
14 attacks, 10.5 hits (after re-rolls), 2.625 wounds (after saves).

Clanrats retaliate (let's assume 3 wounds was dealt):
3 attacks, 1.5 hits, 0.25 wounds (after saves)

The spearmen beat the clanrats, but only because of the hatred. Without the warrior priest, it is a draw (or the clanrats win by 1). Let's put the spearmen against orcs or anything tougher (yet equally cheap) and they lose pretty badly. Also, 7*4 (or bigger) formation is not very maneuverable and the warrior priest is usually better used to boost the effectiveness of knights, greatswords or other high strength troops.

The fact is that S3 is not enough to hurt most troops, thus spears are not very good.

ZeroTwentythree
22-02-2008, 14:16
The "swordsmen or it's useless" mantra is probably the biggest widely-spread false internet "fact" out there as far as empire tactics go.


I don't think it's a matter of "useless" or not. It's a matter of better/worse, and that still depends a bit on the situation and playing style.




Against most troops spearmen are pretty awful, even if the opponent has low toughness and even if they hate the enemy.

EDIT: Just some number crunching for the fun of it
A unit of 28 Spearmen (7*4, shields) with a warrior priest attack 30 clanrats (5*6, shields):
14 attacks, 10.5 hits (after re-rolls), 2.625 wounds (after saves).

Clanrats retaliate (let's assume 3 wounds was dealt):
3 attacks, 1.5 hits, 0.25 wounds (after saves)

The spearmen beat the clanrats, but only because of the hatred. Without the warrior priest, it is a draw (or the clanrats win by 1). Let's put the spearmen against orcs or anything tougher (yet equally cheap) and they lose pretty badly. Also, 7*4 (or bigger) formation is not very maneuverable and the warrior priest is usually better used to boost the effectiveness of knights, greatswords or other high strength troops.

The fact is that S3 is not enough to hurt most troops, thus spears are not very good.


Clanrats have I4, spearmen have I3. The spears would go first if they charged, but then they would not get two ranks attacking.

Also, as a reminder.... horde armies like empire and skaven, both mentioned above, can not rely on wounds to win. They need outnumbering, ranks and most importantly, outmaneuvering the enemy to win combats. For this reason alone, many people prefer swordsmen -- they are more survivable. Extra wounds they may cause are just a bonus. ;)

blurred
22-02-2008, 15:58
Clanrats have I4, spearmen have I3. The spears would go first if they charged, but then they would not get two ranks attacking.

I know. I also gave wider frontage to the spearmen. Just proves the point even further. :)

Fin-man
22-02-2008, 16:40
Spearmen are an average unit – not the greatest, but they are Empire troops…

I prefer swordsmen, but not for any of the reasons mentioned so far. The greatest asset for the swordsmen over the spearmen is WS4. (Also, I like the look of the models) I’ve found that a lot of the armies in WHFB have WS4 as a standard, and this combined with the 4+ AS to the front tends to keep my swordsmen alive by making my opponents need a ‘4’ to hit more often. I win by combat resolution (three ranks, flank [from detachment], outnumber) more than actual wounds caused.

However, that is just what I prefer. In larger games (over 2500 points), I whip out my unit of 24 spearmen with 10-man detachment of halberdiers, and have a go! The important thing is for you to do what you want with the models you prefer. At the end of the day, that’s really all that matters.

Fin-man

Stella Cadente
22-02-2008, 17:10
I used to use them, until I realised they ARE useless against everything, in reality spearmen would have a very good chance against cavalry or a charging unit, in fantasy, they die VERY quickly, spearmen should be allowed to always strike first I think, it would actually make them a viable useful unit, and not just cannon fodder

captaincortez
23-02-2008, 05:30
I also use a block of 29 spears with a priest. As far as blocks of state troops, a really nice looking and characterful Empire army will have a 25+ unit of spears, halberds, and swords at its core. Some units beat others in a game of "math-hammer", but really-the game should come down to using units that you think are cool and that fit your style and the style of the army you are representing.

I'm taking a big block of each in a tourney in the morning...should be fun.

Commodus Leitdorf
23-02-2008, 06:52
I use two 30 man blocks in my Empire amy....and to this day they have not let me down. You have to put ALOT of effort to break my little spearmen! ANd the only reason they have failed me is by being slaughtered to a man. Put a BSB in one, General in the other with the Rod of Command and your good to go. The extra attacks I have found make all the difference in keeping the CR close and thus making it easier to keep in combat longer.

But to each his own. Everyone just needs to remember that ALL Empire troops suck. The difference in effectiveness between the three isn't that much. Spearmen just edge out Halberdiers in effectiveness, and Swordsmen just edge out Spears.

Leogun_91
23-02-2008, 08:12
But to each his own. Everyone just needs to remember that ALL Empire troops suck. The difference in effectiveness between the three isn't that much. Spearmen just edge out Halberdiers in effectiveness, and Swordsmen just edge out Spears.

The difference is very much about what enemy your facing. If you are up against some gobbos 11 spearman attacks can hurt much more than 6 swordsman attacks, and if you are up against dwarf elites the WS4 of the swordsmen won´t do any difference at all and you would be better off using halbeardies wounding at 4+. All state troops have their strenghts and weaknesses which is why my starting force will have a regiment of 30 of each halbeardies, swordsmen and spearmen.

Nurgling Chieftain
23-02-2008, 08:23
My "Mathhammer" of swordsmen fighting spearmen (w/shields) came out exactly even, rather to my surprise. I generally prefer the swordsmen because such blocks exist mostly to resist damage and win through static CR, and swordsmen are better at that.

The math, BTW, went as follows:

5 swordsmen strike first, hitting 2/3, wounding 1/2, and getting through 5+ armor 2/3 = 1&(1/9) spears dead

10 - 1&(1/9) = 8&(8/9) spearmen striking back, hitting 1/2, wounding 1/2, and getting through 4+ armor 1/2 = 1&(1/9) swordsmen dead

Crazy Harborc
24-02-2008, 02:01
I can't recall the last game I pushed Empire and did not use at least one unit of 20/24 Empire spears with shields plus (at least 0ne) detachment(s) of swordsmen.

Far more times than not, my Empire spears hold and often win HtH. Yes, the special detachment rules help (because I use detachments). HE great weapons units came the closest to knocking down my Empire spears.

kroq'gar
25-02-2008, 09:47
I use two 30 man blocks in my Empire amy.....

Try this with swordsmen (same points as a spearmen with shield). They can take the charge, and with higher ws, i, and armour, they last alot longer, die less and so can win through their static combat res.

I take blocks of 20-25 swords, with two detachments of 10 halberds. Take the charge, and close the jaws in on thier flanks.

Gazak Blacktoof
25-02-2008, 10:32
Try this with swordsmen (same points as a spearmen with shield). They can take the charge, and with higher ws, i, and armour, they last alot longer, die less and so can win through their static combat res.


A lot of armies can field blocks with big static combat res. In this regard spearmen are no different to swordsmen. You're unlikely to beat anybody with static combat res alone.

Really the difference between the two units is so small that I'm not sure it makes much difference which unit you choose. Swordsmen might offer margianlly more security for your investment but they also don't have any potential.

redbutskink
25-02-2008, 11:32
I think spearmen are not useless, but swordmen are more useful. Swordmen have more chance to survive, spearmen have more attcks with WS3 S3 I3, the problem is, there is an amount of tough units and high-skillful-Initiative units(comparing with Em-spearmen) in warhammer game. Spearmen's additional attcks are quite limited to low-combet-effectiveness unit, but Swordmen have more chance to survive against any kind of army they're matching.

Another matter is, Empire infans do not stand their feet alone but use Detachment system. Swordmen have less attacks but will offset by detachment's attacks. Parent units keep their numbers and rank by surviving, then killing is other's job(characters and knights may gather too). That is what I know about Empire Infantry tactics.

edit: except for Greatsword. They can survive well but also can kill enemy if they survive (lol).