Arch lectors and warrior priests are below average in killing in combat but they can be fully armoured and max protected (1+ armour saves re-rollable and/or ward saves on the arch lector). What makes arch lectors and warrior priests good are the bonuses they provide to the army. The most important bonus in many instances is the extra dispel dice they give for defensive magic (two for arch lectors and one for warrior priests). This bonus can effectively help shut down the opposing magic phase in many cases (or at least gives you a chance against Slanns and sac dagger dark elf lvl 4's) and, if the opponent fails to cast, rolls poorly on winds of magic, or miscasts, those extra dice can allow the potential for the extra dice to be carried over to your next offensive magic phase with the rod of power on a wizard. Additionally, due to Righteous fury, they give the rank and file unit they are in (not the other characters) hatred, a huge benefit to greatswords and halberds. This makes those units much more potent. War priests and arch lectors were better in 7th edition due to their ability to autocast their prayers of sigmar (treated as bound spells that now must be rolled for using power dice) but those prayers can be very useful if one gets a good winds of magic roll and has a level 4 with say lore of life and/or carries dice over with the rod of power. It means that one really only needs a single lvl 4 (I prefer Lore of life.) in the army.
The other thing is arch lectors and warrior priests allow for flagellants to come in as core. While flagellants can easily be killed, they don't panic or break and their first round abilities and unbreakability makes them a tough unit in certain battles with flails and the ability to generate hatred and possibly re-rolls to wound by having some martyrs. The relatively low WS of flags makes getting hatred essential. Having 30 flags (the max unit size) in a core horde formation can be quite intimidating and allows the army to focus on the cannons and mortars it needs and conserve on core infantry.
Absent the skillful use of the detachment system and the hatred boost of warrior priests and arch lectors, empire infantry (halberds, swordsmen and greatswords are the primary units for the points costs in 8th edition to play in ranked units, with maybe shooting units or militia in detachments) feel like they just don't hit well enough or hard enough to win on their own and justify focusing on those units (possibly they are a half a point per State Troop model too expensive and a point or more too expensive per great swords due to an older army book over-valuing detachments and the ability to boost these units and not being updated to match the newer army books). Thus, you really need to buff them and protect them (steam tanks to charge into and hold up the tough stuff; flagellants to take on the tough stuff) and to allow the mortars and cannons to do the damage and deal with stuff before you have to fight it.
Master engineers are generally worth considering as part of the character complement. Mortars are good because they get the large round template and even if they only have S6 under the hole and S3 under the rest they reduce the armour save by 1 generally and do not allow an armour save under the hole. Thus, a mortar hit on larger T3 and T4 troops can potentially kill a lot of points in a round. Additionally, with a master engineer in 3" range, both mortars and cannons can use the master once per shooting phase per master in range to re-roll their initial scatter or artillery dice roll (no re-roll of the bounce) which can substantially reduce the risk of misfires and, when needed, increase the chance of hitting. One master attached to one war machine with a second or third war machine within 3" is, thus, considered pretty standard in deployment.
In general, a fairly standard empire army will have one arch lector (with speculum and protection and possibly on a war altar), one lvl 4, and one captain and possibly add a warrior priest as their basic character components with one or more master engineers viewed as dedicated to enhancing the cannons and mortars.
BTW, I love empire cav and would like to run many characters with full armour on barded mounts (in order to max their armour saves with mundane armour and avoid magic armour as much as possible ihn order to better utilize their magic points) in a heavy cav unit but heavy cav units are really hurt by 8th edition rules and need to be recosted by GW (as is being done in the new 8th edition army books such as Orcs and Goblins) to be fully worth focusing on.
Last edited by olderplayer; 10-07-11 at 04:26 PM.