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!

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