Total War: Warhammer

Empire Army Composition Guide – Total War: Warhammer

Empire Army Composition

Common questions about the Empire is: What makes for an effective army? What is the ideal Empire army composition? I’ll go over a few armies I used for my Legendary Empire campaign.

Let’s start with the basics. To perform “anvil and hammer” tactics, you’ll need:

  • Front-line composed of infantry (the anvil)
  • Cavalry (the hammer)
  • Ranged missile infantry

That is a good place to start. Ideally, front-line infantry has shields in order to reduce the damage they receive from ranged attacks, which helps their longevity. Swordsmen and Spearmen (with Shields) fill this role nicely in the early and mid-game. From there, you want to concentrate on melee attack, melee defense, and armor.

For ranged infantry, crossbowmen work well, even into late game. You will want to transition to handgunners eventually due to their armor-piercing damage.

The important thing is to make sure you’re covering the important characteristics:

  • Anti-Armor
  • Anti-Large

My personal style when building armies is very defensive: Artillery, strong melee infantry, and ranged infantry to counter enemy ranged infantry. Cavalry are used to flank, take out enemy ranged infantry and artillery.

I divide up my armies into three types: Main army, sub-armies, low-budget armies.

Main Army

My main army is designed to fight just about any faction, and is heavily anti-armor with some anti-large. It also costs the most so I don’t run more than one of this type.

Empire Guide – Empire Army Composition
  • Legendary Lord (Karl Franz)
  • Warrior Priest – spells, defensive combat stats, and replenishment skills like Heal Troops.
  • 4 Steam Tanks
  • 4 Handgunners
  • 6 Greatsword Infantry
  • 4 Demigryph Knights (Halberds)

This army fights defensively using the Steam Tanks, LL, and Warrior Priest as the front contact line. Enemy units will swarm and surround these units.

The handgunners take up positions behind and fire directly into the enemy as they swarm your Tank/LL/WP line. As your front line are all singular entity units, there’s a lot of free space and you can shoot without worrying about friendly fire. The handgunners can also be shifted to the flanks to fire on ranged cavalry who attempt to fire on the far wings of your army.

Demigryph halberds solve three problems: Needing anti-large, needing cavalry to flank the enemy, and taking out artillery. They pretty much eliminate the need for horsemen and halberdiers. I usually keep these in the back to meet large unit attacks. They can also spot cover for handgunners if units break away from your steam tank front line.

As strong as this army is, it has a downside: It is very expensive. You will most likely be able to field only one of these armies until you take a lot of territory.

Standard Army

These are standard armies that are well-balanced between cost and effectiveness.

Empire Guide - Empire Army Composition

Empire Guide - Empire Army Composition

Empire Guide - Empire Army Composition

  • Legendary Lord
  • Warrior Priest (specialized for replenishment) – Decent melee fighters with skills to use in battle to protect your units. With high replenishment, your army can keep going without rest.
  • 4 Crossbowmen – swap these out with Handgunners when fighting Dwarves, Chaos, or Brettonia
  • 2 Spearmen with shields – Excellent at covering flanks, these units will be your budget anti-large units. These should be swapped out for halberdiers mid to late game depending on need.

That is a core of nine units. The rest can be filled in how you want, but you want to cover a few bases:

  • 4-6 Melee units – At the start of the game, these can be swordsmen (or five and a RoR Sons of Sigmar). Later, swapping them for Greatsword infantry is good to deal with late-game high armor units.
  • 2-4 Cavalry – Reiksguard is good in this role, but late game you want Knights of the Blazing Sun instead.
  • 1+ Artillery – Artillery is good in general to deal long-range damage, but more importantly it will force the AI to attack you. Mortar early game, then helstorm rocket battery or great cannon mid to late game.
  • Witch Hunter (for Accusation and agent protection) – Entirely optional; I use them in certain situations.

While there is no single “best army”, this should provide you with a decent idea of what to build around. Obviously, depending on the enemy faction you’re dealing with, make adjustments (more halberdiers against Brettonia or more cavalry against Dwarves, for example).

Low-Budget Army

Empire Guide - Empire Army CompositionYou will need armies to keep public order stable in newly conquered territory while your regular armies fight, or need an army to chase down stragglers. That is where the low-budget army comes in. Nothing fancy with a solid backbone, this army is composed of swordsmen, spearmen with shields, crossbowmen, and mortars. This army is great for reclaiming razed territory also (a must as Chaos factions will blow up all the cities they attack).


I hope this guide is useful for you, please leave feedback and also your input on what you think makes for a good army!

Total War: Warhammer – Announcement Cinematic Trailer

The Creative Assembly has just announced the latest game in the Total War franchise, Total War: Warhammer. I don’t think anyone was really surprised, due to the leaks and job hirings they were making, but I’m glad to see it is finally been confirmed.

From the trailer, it looks like the initial playable factions are the Greenskins, the Dwarves, the Empire, the Undead/Vampire Counts, and possibly Chaos. Based on their current business, I am sure the rest of the races that people like (Skaven, Lizardmen, Elves, etc.) will be added in as DLC.

The Warhammer fantasy setting is a great place to expand the Total War franchise into, and I think a fantasy setting could breathe new life into it. As we’re already seeing, CA has touched upon most of the major time periods and needed to do something new. As much as I enjoyed the previous games, I don’t think we need a Medieval 3, a Shogun 3, or a Rome 3. (Well, an Empire 2 would be good.)

One thing though, I am curious how they plan to handle things like flying units and magic. One could argue magic is similar to the activated abilities for units in Total War, but I imagine in a Warhammer setting, abilities are more significant and visually meaningful.

I hope that CA has learned from Rome 2 that their releases need more quality assurance. Rome 2 today is an incredible game, but it took 15 patches to get there. Total War: Attila’s stability was a step in the right direction. I think a lot of the issues with Rome 2 were because of the Warscape Engine. Whether or not they will use the same engine or another one is not known at this point.

Overall, I am excited for Total War: Warhammer. Knowing the timeline though, it may take two years or so until the game releases, so I wouldn’t expect it sooner than 2017.

Total War: Warhammer – In the works?

So there has been some evidence that Total War: Warhammer is being worked on.

Here is the link to the relevant post.

The Total War community’s reaction has been very divided. Some are very happy for a new branch on their favorite IP, others are expressing anger for the move into fantasy, and many others are taking a wait-and-see approach.

The people who are against Total War: Warhammer have two lines of reasoning:

  • They believe CA is “tainting” the Total War franchise’s focus on history.
  • They believe CA will stop working on the historical games that Total War is known for.

First off, it isn’t your intellectual property. It’s Sega and CA’s. They could make a My Little Pony game with the Total War branding and you would have to live with it. Don’t like it? The only option you have is to not buy it. Don’t worry, you won’t be missed as we will have plenty of Warhammer fans to replace you.

Second, this is foolish. CA has already shown they have multiple teams working on different games. If you were to believe some of the posters in the TW community, CA will never make another historical Total War game again. Was Total War really all that historical to begin with? Does no one remember exploding pigs?

It just looks like a small number of angry, fanatical “purists” who believe Total War needs to be a certain way only. These people are toxic to the community. Games should be seen and played before judging them, and these people are completely condemning the game off of a blurb in an art book.

Personally, I think it’s fine. The game series was starting to stagnate. Medieval 3? Shogun 3? How many numbers were we going to go up into? Because history is history, it cannot be “improved” with new mechanics and features. Historical games are either historical or not. If a game is fun, it’s fun. Let it be judged on its own merits and quality.

What is the upside of a Warhammer game in the Total War franchise?

New IP to explore – Like I mentioned above, how many sequels to certain games can we expect from Rome, Medieval, and Shogun? Is there something I can look forward to that Rome 5 will have that Rome 4 won’t? History itself can’t be “changed” to reflect more interesting gameplay. The most they can do is update graphics, and any other changes would be on the periphery of features. Some have argued that there are other time periods to explore (Rise of Islam, Victorian Era, China’s Warring States Period, etc.) but I would argue the gameplay would still be the same, while the setting is different. A football game played in a different stadium and season is still football.

New gameplay and mechanics – Total War has a overused formula. Most units are either spear, sword, or ranged units. You have foot infantry, cavalry, and artillery. You attack settlements, siege cities, and fight armies, in the context of a pretty straightforward politics and diplomacy system, with a small mini-game utilizing agents. The variance between play-styles and units in the Warhammer universe are very large, and would be a breath of fresh air in a somewhat tired formula.

Overall, I feel like having a Warhammer game in the franchise is a plus. Time will tell how good it is, and how well it is received.