If designed right, this is a tough matchup for beastmen, especially if you go with a heavy magic/bray stone (shard of herdstone grants +1 power die for each wizard within 6") build. Since there is no rule on this shard, you can allow it to be of decent size and block line of sight to maximize its range and give you some protection (kind of cheezy but given your army's weaknesses usually overlooked as a necessary evil to allow your army a chance; often used to bunker the casters in a protected unit and let them cast out direct damage spells at range with the extra power dice generated). The mortars knock out your larger infantry blocks well before combat and the cannons can kill chariots, monstrous beasts, and larger model units and monster and monstrous units reliably with single shots. You may need to run small harpy units and/or ambushers to try to get across to take out war machines.
The beastman ambush rule is often too random and should have been FAQed to make it a bit more reliable and/or to allow certain skirmishers in your army to have the more normal ambush rule or to simply scout (such as raiders can be deployed as scouts with a minor additional points cost). Consider lots of small drops and target saturation techniques with units of razargors and harpies and maybe raiders (bait and flee) to try to get to the war machines and counter/redirect the threats as well.
Empire army has some unique rules and units.
Stream Tank. This has a toughness 10 (GW increased the T in an FAQ to make this hard to wound by most things out there), strength 10, and armour save of 1+ and is unbreakable. Thus, you need to shoot it or cast a spell at it (charisteristic tests of lore of death and shadow) that gets past the toughness and the armour save or simply tie it up with a unit that can take the hits. Attacks in combat with the steam tank automatically hit but must roll to wound and get past the armour save. The tank has ten wounds but can potentially wound itself if it by using steam points (if the up to 5 steam points chosen plus a D6 roll is equal to or greater than the steam tank's remaining wounds then the steam tank both suffers an unsaved wound and is unable to move or shoot or attack in combat that turn) to move (3" per steam point) or shoot (can even fire the cannon while in combat at models beyond the combat and potentially cause D3 S2 wounds to the the models in combat with the tank) or fight in combat (grinding attack). The tank uses steam points to move and charge (3" per steam point plus D3 impact hits per steam point on the charge) and fight in combat two ways (grinding attack once already in combat from before is D3 hits per steam point used for the attack and steam attack does S2 hits with no armour save on models touched by a flame template with the wider part touching the tank). Once it has a few wounds, the tank is nerfed unless it is willing to risk taking more wounds (The tank controller can simply avoid wounds by choosing zero steam points that turn.). The tank can also be wounded by dangerous terrain tests as a chariot, so make sure you have terrain and use it.
Arch lector. This lord model gives hatred to the unit he is in and can cast bounds spells (prayers of sigmar) to buff its unit and stuff and adds two dispel dice to the opponent's pool. He is often given a magic item "speculum" that allows the arch lector to swamp chosen characteristic stats (not magic items) in a challenge with an opposing model. The arch lector is not a good fighting character without the speculum. Also, this model is often on a war altar that is a chariot that gives a ward save, a bound spell, and other benefits to the arch lector and is unbreakable. This chariot can be wounded (dangerous terrain).
War Priests are basically hero-level arch lectors that give hatred to the units they are in, can fight in combat decently, get one prayer of sigmar bound spell, and give one dispel dice to the dispell dice pool in the defensive magic phase.
Core troops are so-so and just slightly over priced without buffed and use of detachments. Most commonly used are swordsmen (T3, S3, but +1 WS and armour and shields for a better armour save and parry save), halberdiers (+1 S on attacks but loss of shield) and handgunners (move or shoot weapon with S4 and AP shots, typically used to protect war machines). Spearmen are now used less often relative to swordmen and halberdiers. Core troops that are State Troops have a detachments system which allows a second or third unit of state troops, archers, or militia (often specialized like militia with two hand weapons) that can counter-charge a unit charging its parent unit into the flank and help with combat resolution if they are kept close to the parent unit. I do not see the detachment system used effectively most of the time when playing empire armies and often do not see handgunners or militia used as detachments.
Special troops are the great swords. They are basically like swordsmen but have plate armour (4+ AS), no shields, and great weapons so that they can hit hard but are somewhat overpriced relatively to the newer army books.
Rare troops are flagellants. Flagellants have low WS, have no armour, and are only S3, T3, I3 troops but they have flails (+2 S in the first round of combat), are unbreakable (you have to kill em), are frenzied, and can sacrifice models at the beginning of combat to gain hatred (D3 =1), hatred and re-roll to wound (D3=2), or hatred, re-roll to wound, and +1 CR (D3=3). This unit is limited to up to 30 models and can be included as core troops if you have a war priest or arch lector in the army.
Mounted cav are decent (fast cav with pistols, cav with handguns with move or shoot, and well-armoured knights with barded steeds) and the knights can be part of core.
Generals and captains (both S4, T4, WS 5) are so-so but have good armour saves and abilities to protect them with magic items for re-rolls of armour saves, ward saves, high armour save, etc. in their book.
A level 4 wizard with lore of life is pretty standard. Wizards have access to a magic item allowing unused power/dispel dice to be saved (up to 2) and carried over to the next magic phase. Lore of life is used for the ability to restore wounds, avoid damage from miscasts and boost toughness of a key unit (flesh to stone) and the best anti-horde/unit spell in Dwellers Below.
Most empire armies use war machines:
The great cannon has longer range and can be very reliable with an engineer in range (3") making it more reliable.
The mortar is a stone thrower with S3 hits but uses a large template and reduces the armour save of models wounded and is one of the best anti-unit weapons, especially with a master engineer within range.
A master engineer in range of the mortars and cannons can re-roll one scatter or artillery dice roll in the shooting phase for a cannon or mortar and, in 8th edition, gets a look out sir of 4+ if within 3" and can be in the war machine unit. Master engineers can also be equiped with repeater guns, pistols, sniper rifles, and some other goofy weapons (pigeon bombs) that they can use if and only if they did not use their re-roll abilities in the same shooting phase.
Less common are the rocket battery and volley gun which are both less reliable but occassionally can really rip up larger units.
Last edited by olderplayer; 11-09-11 at 05:56 PM.