View Full Version : Empire Greatswords, how many to take?

06-01-2007, 16:25
How meny models should take for an Greatswords regiment? As they are a bit costly on money, I wouldn't like to spend too much on them. I was thinging of 20...

Also I could use some tactical thoughts on them, in what kind of an game should I use them and aggainst on wich enemy?

Von Wibble
06-01-2007, 16:41
Greatswords -


- Stubborn

- good armour

- WS4 S5

- detachments


- Special - competing with pistoliers, inner circle, outriders, cannon and mortars. (all of which with the exception of the mortar I really like)

- points cost can be high (for empire)

I see greastswords as being particularly useful against armies that rely on breaking their opponents in the first round, such as bretonnians and high elves. I see them as less useful against opponents that can swamp them with cheap troops as swordsmen can fill their role adequately at lower cost and as a core choice.

Obviously fear is also a good weapon against them - but of course the icon of magnus is even cheaper now (and can be combined with the armour of meteoric iron and a great weapon to make a durable, cheap and hard hitting captain)

I see greatswords being more useful in a defensive role acting as a tarpit - too slow and expensive compared to other empire troops to go forward with.

If you have the points and special slot to spare and are not charging forward with a bretonnian style army then I see little reason not to take them every time. But that is I feel also true of many other units in the army...

06-01-2007, 19:31
Thaks for this Von Wibble. I don't see the need for this unit at this point, I mainly get Dwarfs and Tomb Kings against me. I guess these fellas would be nice to convert after mainstay of my Empire army is ready.

But main question remains, how many to wield in army? Say 2000p army... 20 - 25 models w. full command?

06-01-2007, 19:44
I use them everytime in my 2000 p. and 2250 p armies.

I use 25 models with full command, but no heroes or other kind of nastyness. I deploy them away from my main battle line, since I don't feel they really need the generals leadership or the Battlestandard to survive or win the day.

I use them to go solo and hit my enemies semi-hard units, and they work admirably in that role. They aren't good enough to fight stuff like Black Orcs or Chosen Chaos Warriors, but against stuff like Dwarf Longbeards or Witch Elves they are fantastic. As you say they are also good at holding against stuff like charging knights and such, so that is also a role they can do well in.

Now, you can also use them to simply slaughter crappy infantry like goblins or their equivalent, last time I used them against O&G they single-handedly killed 4 units of gobbos, and that was after being hit by all of those fanatics (8 if I remember correctly). And I didn't really roll good either...

Lieutenant Frederic Henry
06-01-2007, 20:23
24 with full command and a Captain with the sword of sigismund is a nice little way to do them, with 10 halberdiers in support. Those three S5 attacks from the captain striking first always seems to surprise the enemy, kills one or two front rankers, making less attacks come back against your greatswords, who then get to whack back with more S5 attacks. If you're really not a nice person, throw in a WP for Hatred.
I try to keep these guys away from Knights, since a 4+ save isn't enough to save them from lance hits at s5 or above. I use my Greatswords to go after weaker things in the enemy army which they are sure to annihilate. Once they chew through a few units of orc boys or marauders or squishy elves, they have robbed the enemy's harder hitting units of their support elements. The greatswords are then free to help out my mainline infantry, which has been bogging the 'ard stuff down with massed combat resolution, and Empire General LD9 and BSB re-rolls.

god octo
06-01-2007, 21:42
if your looking to save points, you could maybe use 19 with full command and accompanied by a fighty hero of some kind.

07-01-2007, 05:05
They aren't good enough to fight stuff like Black Orcs or Chosen Chaos Warriors, but against stuff like Dwarf Longbeards or Witch Elves they are fantastic.

??? What makes Longbeards so diffrent from Black Orcs ???

07-01-2007, 06:26
??? What makes Longbeards so diffrent from Black Orcs ???

2 strength 5 attacks each in the first round of combat with armed to da teef and the new choppa rules, and they'll probably be charging you owing to the WAAAAGH! rule and new animosity. This is as opposed to 1 ST4 attack each from a longbeard, since most players go HW&S, whom you will probably get to charge.

07-01-2007, 07:01
Don't you find that a 25 strong unit is a bit pricey and full command?

(I admit that it can weather the magical bombardment better).

I field a unit of 20 + full command and then occasionally add a captain with the sword of sigismund. The unit *always* takes the field, sometimes in smaller numbers, sometimes minus the hero.

They either take the charge and the captain gives the enemy a nasty surprise or they charge home and take out a core enemy unit.

Lately they've been blasted to pieces by magic though... so they don't see much action.

I'd suggest leaving a BSB within their vicinity- stubborn doesn't make them unbreakable- and a single poor roll can ruin things!

For 10 points, high strength, stubborn - they are one of the few hard hitting units in the Empire line up- so they are worth taking!

07-01-2007, 10:02
I guess 20 it is then... After the rest of the army ready, I think I'll convert them, don't wan't to use the GW's. They are cool, but I wan't them to belong to the army...

07-01-2007, 10:06
3 units of 20 with 10-man halberd detachments.

Imperial Git
07-01-2007, 13:11
3 units of 20 with 10-man halberd detachments.

Damn boy! :D

07-01-2007, 13:49
So, 20 Greatswords seems to be the way forward... I like the sound of your ideas here, but as they are still 'elite' infantry.

In my expereince, elite infantry tends to not get involved in the game enouogh, so in the past, I've gone for a couple of units of lesser troops to bulk out the numbers.

How would you go about making sure the Greatswords get stuck in, rather than say 25 more swordsmen, plus a couple more upgrades here and there?

07-01-2007, 16:41
I too use 25 Greatswords with full command I usually put a warrior priest in them now. I usually deploy them at the centre of my main battle line. They are always a real lynchpin of my force.

What detachments do people use with them, if any?

Also, hello to you all this is my first official post other than introducing myself!

07-01-2007, 16:47
Personally I go for wide shallow units of 12-18 in ranks of 6 or 7.

They're too expensive to rank up as 20 or 25 and cope very well as flankers against elites or head on against dross.

07-01-2007, 20:34
I personally use 20 with full command. Though you really can't go wrong with 25. Won't go more than that.

Lieutenant Frederic Henry
07-01-2007, 21:08
How would you go about making sure the Greatswords get stuck in, rather than say 25 more swordsmen, plus a couple more upgrades here and there?

Put them on an extreme of your line. Most army's battle plans rely on outflanking you in some fashion. I tend to use a refused flank (i.e. deploy using one board edge to cover my flank) and deploying my Greatswords on the exposed flank. If an enemy wants to outflank my line, they have to go through my frenzied, S5, full-plate equipped Unit. If the enemy doesn't want to outflank me, all's well and dandy... the unit redeploys to the center and tries to outflank the enemy instead. In my experience, they always see combat.

07-01-2007, 21:14
The reason I use 25 is because I always want the +3 ranks, seeing as how they have so few attacks themselves. On the other hand, if you include a captain, then he will probably kill 1-2 enemies, making it just as effective as that +1 rank. On second thought, a captain with full plate and great sword would weight in at 66 points right? And 5 Greatswords at 50...

Hmm, I shall consider this too, adding a captain instead of the extra rank, it might pay of well. And it will not make the unit look so big and juicy to shoot at...

08-01-2007, 00:55
I have tended to run them in units of 13 with a mounted catain with the sword of sigismund. It keeps the cost down and gives them a chance when they are charged.
I will now run them with a WP.

They are deployed on the flank with an archer screen and FC.

I have been happy with their performance even without the hero. You must however pick your target Borcs and heavy cav are a problem.

09-01-2007, 13:37
I always use 20 without characters. They become more interesting when the BSB is nearby as they will hardly ever break then. In my experience the empire is best played as a tactical army where the enemy is thinned comming to you, held in place with large infantry units (such as great swords) then charged by either detatchments or knights.

Tipically with WS 4 and a 4+ armor save your not going to loose a huge number of them in a round of combat. And those things that will kill piles of them will still be stuck due to stubborn. Just be careful if you want to win combat with them through detatchments. Many people like to bring halbred's or free company as detachments, but i'm inclined to believe that this is a bad thing. Only use swordsmen with greatswords. This way the enemy won't be able to choose to attack the soft WS3 lightly armored unit in the side and will be faced with WS4 4+ saves all around.

Lieutenant Frederic Henry
09-01-2007, 18:33
That's actually a pretty good idea, nightcrawler. I never thought of that. Sounds like a good way to keep combat reservation leaning the right way. However, halberdiers work well too. Five S5 attacks and three S6 attacks (4 Greatswords in the front rank, foot captain with GW) are very well complimented by five S4 attacks from the detatchment. If you can kill enough enemy troops, you can win the combat, rather than relying on the stubborn ability to see you through until the next round. Still, I'll try out this swordsmen-detatchment idea, and let you know how it turns out. It seems promising.

09-01-2007, 18:42
Planning to win combats by killing things is not the Imperial way - what you want is to negate the enemy's rank bonus and win through static combat resolution and not losing anything yourself.

Halberdiers are rubbish - they might have seen some use if spearmen and free company were not the same price.

09-01-2007, 21:10
3 units of 20 with 10-man halberd detachments.

Wow! That sounds tough. You should add a meteoric-ironed BSB and a warrior priest or two. :D

Anyway, I use my greatswords in a unit of 12 (2*6) or 14 (2*7) with a musician. They are great at holding units and chewing them at the same time. If my BSB happens to be around, all the better. :)

09-01-2007, 21:12
but against stuff like Dwarf Longbeards or Witch Elves they are fantastic.

Really? I would think Witch Elves would slaughter these guys. Especially when a Hag with Manbane (common setup) is included. The Witches, on average, will kill roughly 4 Greatswords per turn before the Greatswords even get to swing back. Yes, they can tie them up, but fighting well against Witch Elves I find hard to believe. The Witches will grind them down in a few turns and destroy them, on average...

10-01-2007, 06:35
I generally field mine as a full unit of 25 or 24+character, usually my general. Is it really nessecary? Maybe not, but it makes a great center peice unit to hold my battle line.

I have also tried units of 12 or 11+general, which has worked well enough. They aren't a unit to hold the line against most enemies, but they make great support units to back up any bogged down combats. I am hoping to experiment with smaller units of Greatswordsmen more in the future, though I don't get much time on the tables these days.

10-01-2007, 11:53
Really? I would think Witch Elves would slaughter these guys. Especially when a Hag with Manbane (common setup) is included. The Witches, on average, will kill roughly 4 Greatswords per turn before the Greatswords even get to swing back. Yes, they can tie them up, but fighting well against Witch Elves I find hard to believe. The Witches will grind them down in a few turns and destroy them, on average...

The thing is that the which elves are to squishy, the have a lot of attacks and do a lot of wounds, but the 4+ save will see you through A LOT of the times. Then S5 will absolutely crush the poor witches, not to mention that you will probably have a detachment hacking them up good to. Also, witch elves cost about 30% more than the greatswords, and people tend to run them in units of 14-20, meaning that you will very quickly start to get the upper hand in the static combat res. department.

Now, last time I played witch elves they came in a fully ranked unit of 20, with some brew which made me not get bonuses for flanking or outnumbering, and that was a hard nut to crack, they and my greatswords duked it out for the whole game, until they finally failed a LD-test and ran and I managed to catch them.

Now that I think about it, that guy rolled two double 1:s on otherwise auto-breaks for those girls, so I still hold my claim that greatswords have a blast with witches.

It's the armour that does it.

10-01-2007, 13:33
The detachments are the only way I see Greatswords winning these fights. But I could argue that Dark Elves will have a Dark Rider unit in support, so to be fair let us assume neither unit has such support.

The witches, even when outnumbered like you stated (assuming a unit of 15), will beat the Greatswords on average by 1 point initially, and then tie with them each round after until they whittle down the Great Swords' static res bonuses. I always round down fractions when thinking this way, because fractions of a wound mean nothing in the scheme of things. The rank and file Witch Elves will cause, on average 2.5 wounds. A smart Dark Elf player will challenge the champion, and the Empire player will either decline, or accept the challenge and lose his champion. Either way, the champion's extra attack will not be a factor. So that leaves 2 normal attacks the Great Swords get to return to the Witch Elves, which will cause a total of 5/6 wounds. This is a victory for the Witch Elves, even after static combat resolution.

Also, the increased cost of the Witch Elves has no bearing here because you are assuming the Great Sword unit is significantly larger than the Witch Elves, which makes them actually the cheaper unit. If the Witch Elves have a full unit of 20+ when fighting the Great Swords, they will defeat them much more soundly.

As the combat continues, the Witch Elves will begin to defeat the Great Swords more and more easily since the Great Swords will begin to lose many of their static combat resolution bonuses.

Assuming they both have a unit to flank charge only increases the chances of the Witches winning as well (by quite a bit, I might add).

Lastly, due to the high number of attacks they have, Witch Elves have a much greater chance of "beating the odds" and causing a number of wounds much higher than what the averages show.

Granted this is very mathematically based and doesn't always reflect reality, but I think claiming Great Swords smack Witch Elves around is not accurate. It also doesn't jive with my experience, because my Witch Elves consistently defeat Great Swords in the fights they have had.

If you don't believe me, just roll the dice yourself, assuming:

1) Witch Elves in 5x3 with Hag with Manbane
2) Great Swords in 5x5 with Champion
3) Both have standard/musician
4) Hag challenges and Champion accepts
5) Witch Elves charge

I just rolled it off 10 times over multiple rounds of combat until one unit ran away or was destroyed, and the Witch Elves won 7 out of 10 times. Because of their higher WS, I, and ridiculous number of attacks, the Witch Elves cause so much damage that the Great Swords rarely get to reciprocate with much and thus get ground down over a few rounds of combat...

But on the flip side they probably can handle a Witch Elf charge better than most units in the Empire... :evilgrin:

10-01-2007, 17:30
If an enemy wants to outflank my line, they have to go through my frenzied, S5, full-plate equipped Unit. If the enemy doesn't want to outflank me, all's well and dandy... the unit redeploys to the center and tries to outflank the enemy instead. In my experience, they always see combat.

Umm, am I missing something here? :confused:
I have not got my book on me but since when have Greatswords been Frenzied? Is this some Greatsword/Flagellant combo unit?

10-01-2007, 18:46
People seem to commonly overlook that Witch Elves don't survive getting to the greatswords against the average Empire army in sufficient numbers. It's called handgunners (or crossbows, for that matter). One round at long range and one round at short range before they close to CC should see them whittled down to 50% of their strength, and together with dark riders they'd be my first targets, more than likely.

That's not even counting that, instead of 25 greatswords, I would prefer 20 of them plus free company detachments.

PS. Mortar or Helblaster would also work, but I don't usually field one.

10-01-2007, 21:03
Well, if you never count detachments, almost all empire units will resolutely loose all their combats. They need detachments. If you don't count them, or assume that the Witches always have a Dark Rider unit (Which would cost 3 times as much as the free company) and that those dark riders can flank the greatswords and not just the free company, then yes, the witches will probably win more times then the greatswords.

But you cannot really do it like that, since Empire relies on it's detachments. I always take them, they are like a part of the same unit. If someone killed my detachment and I had not managed to kill a single elf with my shooting, then I would not go in with the greatswords.

It also depends on who gets the charge, if the Greatswords actually charge, the champion will make minced beef of the witch champion...

11-01-2007, 02:16
If you say Empire gets its detachment, it is only fair to say that the Witch Elves will have their equally critical and common Dark Rider support. In this situation, the Witch Elves come out winning even more definatively since the Great Swords rely on static combat resolution so much more...

11-01-2007, 07:06
Why would a competent Empire general target Witches with a greatsword unit when a simple Swordsmen unit would do the job at a cheaper price with no real loss? Greatswords are better at chewing through static res infantry, as their high S, WS, and decent AS, as well as detachments mean they can chew through an average unit. Top it off with the fact that an idiot knows to shoot the **** out of Witches and Dark Riders should mean that there's no way a full strength unit of witches will get into combat with Greatswords.

11-01-2007, 13:42
Grogsnotpowwabomba: No, you can't assume that.All units in the dark elf army won't have a unit of dark riders on standby. And they will not be able to flank the greatswords in the same way as detachments can flank the witches, since detachments have so many rules to make it easier for them to flank. The detachment might get flanked though, but that still doesn't make the greatswords loose their ranks.

11-01-2007, 15:37
Yes I can assume that a competent Dark Elf player will be just as likely to have a Dark Rider unit supporting one of his major combat units as an Empire player will have his detachment. Dark Rider's supporting infantry units is one of the most basic and important staples of any Dark Elf general's book of tactics. It is a completely fair assumption. Dark Riders can project their 18" charge over a much wider area, and thus a single Dark Rider unit can be ready to support many different Dark Elf units simultaneously.

My point is that if the only way you are going to claim Great Swords are a good choice to fight Witch Elves is because of their detachments, then you need to account for support units the Dark Elf player will have available as well. Otherwise the analysis is flawed.

Also, without meaning to get too off topic, when the question of shooting is raised I would argue that any competent Dark Elf player would be shooting the Great Swords with equal vigor, so this is again a moot point to the discussion...

At this point I will just agree to disagree unless you can say anything new that will add to the discussion. I have already done my best to explain why Witch Elves generally defeat Great Swords, qualitatively, quantitatively, and with a sample test. By all means engage Witch Elves with Great Swords. We Dark Elf generals would be happy to oblige you... :evilgrin:

11-01-2007, 16:47
My simple point is: Empire Detachments can't be seen as supporting units, they are just a part of the same unit. And for the points cost of the witches, then the greatswords can get themselves this "unit upgrade".

Anyway, as you say, we will not reach a conclusion here. All I know is that my greatswords have beaten any witches they've encountered, and that makes me happy.

17-01-2007, 08:00
If the DEs can have both Riders and witch elves, Empire can probably field a bigger Greatsword with Detachment, plus some handgunners for good measure.

17-01-2007, 16:18
Either 25+full command+WP / 20+full command+WP / 20+Full command+War Banner.

For the WP I tend to use guilded armour, horse+barding and a great weapon.

17-01-2007, 16:37
I can see that some more stats are needed here. Lets think of 2 scenerios that are quite possible

20 witch elves w. champ
20 great swords w. champ
10 detatched swordsmen

S1: Witch elves charge and get counter-charged in the flank by a unit of swordsmen (my favorite detatchment)
Turn 1 --> detatchment has 5 attacks that cause 1 wound
Witch elves get 22 attacks (2 models on flank, 5 in front, I forget what manbane does so i won't take that into account) for 3.6 wounds (we'll take the .6 in the flank)
Swordsmen get 2 attacks for 1 wound
combat res -->
witch elves killed 4 and have standard for a total of 5

empire killed 2 have a standard, flank, 3 ranks and outnumber for a total of 7

Empire wins by 2 and witch elves loose frenzy which makes them MUCH easier to kill off in later rounds. Eventually the dark elves will fail their ld test and run even if the unit of dark riders flanks either empire unit. (witch elves aren't much if frenzy is removed)

Scenerio 2:
Dark elves combine a charge with witch elves charging the great swords and a unit of dark riders charging the detatchment
lots of math
witch elves win by 2
dark riders (w. spears) tie combat with the detatchment and win through the use of a pretty horn

this is a bleak future for the empire as the witch elves will retain their frenzy and slowly eat their way through the greatswords.

moral of the story: The empire NEEDS to support their units and the game is won in the movement phase.

go figure

17-01-2007, 19:36
Why can't people figure that witch elves plus dark riders are a ton of points - much more than equal numbers of greatswords plus two detachments? Not to mention, the witch elves have to survive crossing the map, and it's a given that every Empire army has some ranged attacks - and 20 S4 shots at 2,000 points is a low estimate, but sufficient to make sure the witches get reduced in numbers a fair amount (or the dark riders, if the Empire player so pleases).