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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 12-30-10, 06:03 AM Thread Starter
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Empire: Detachment Tactica Ranged units

Ive looked around at a few different Empire lists created recently and one thing Im seeing with those lists that use a ranged unit as a detachment is that there is an overwhelming preference for Handgunners over Archers for this ranged element. My question is very simple: why?

If we look at Handgunners their obvious strength is the hitting power of the Empire Handgun. It is 1 Str better than the bow and it benefits from the Armour Piercing rule. It has the same range as a bow also. Its one down-side is that it is a move-or-fire weapon.

Archers are a second ranged choice for a detachment. Their bows match the handgun in range yet they are slightly less powerful and they do not grant the Armour Piercing rule. The one upside that archers have is that bows can be fired after the archers move.

Crossbowmen are the third and final ranged choice. The power (Str) of the crossbow is the same as that of the Empire Handgun yet the crossbow does not benefit from the Armour Piercing rule. The crossbow does have a slightly longer range than both the bow and handgun. However, just as the handgun it is a move-or-fire weapon.

Taking into account that more often than not we arent playing a battle in which your troops are deployed in one spot as a whole and dont move the entire game, it is highly likely that your parent units will have to move at some point during the battle. In order to benefit from the Detachment system the detachments assigned to the parent unit will have to keep up with them and remain within the few inches closeness that is required.

Given the last paragraph you can see that Handgunner detachments, in moving to keep up with their parent unit, lose out on a few turns of acting due to their move-or-fire weapons. Sure, they will certainly be able to stand and shoot in all ways available to them, but other than that and firing at other targets once their parent unit is engaged, they simply walk around the battlefield in formation with their Parent unit.

The same can be said for Crossbowmen.

Archers, on the other hand, are able to move normally and remain alongside their parent unit in the move phase and then still release a salvo during the shooting phase. Granted, you will most likely need 5s or 6s (or more) to hit. In addition, Archers may also perform all of the duties granted to it by the Detachment system just as the Handgunners mentioned above.

Looking at this I see that Archers will get to shoot much more often and create a chance for enemy casualties than Handgunners when used as a detachment in most normal scenario situations. So why are so many lists overlooking them in this role? Did I miss a major point that is the reason why Handgunners are used more in this role?

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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 12-30-10, 08:59 AM
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I think that the Empire has become a lot more static in this version which is why handgunners are more popular.
I used to run 30 archers and they rarely killed anything their only use was as a skirmish screen and a draw for fanatics (but 5 free company can do that for less) and given that skirmishers are less useful now it's not really a surprise that most have dropped them.
To be honest though other than a few free company suicide squads when I'm fighting O&G I have ditched detachments altogether in this edition, With my troops in horde it's harder to get a worthwhile flank charge with combat troops as bigger units are easier to protect the flanks and a few extra bodies are preferable in the grind than a smaller seperate unit.
Missile troops wise I'd rather have the longrifle in a standard unit than any of the other options which includes the bonusses of the detachment rules so I tend not to use the detachment rules at all.

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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 12-30-10, 01:50 PM
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The way I see it yes the archers will shoot more often but looking at the odds.

Stationary against light infantry
10 Archers
hit (1/2)wound(1/2)saves(2/3)= 1.66 wounds
10 gunners
hit (1/2)wound(2/3)saves(all)= 3.33 wounds

moving against light infantry
10 archers
hit(1/3)wounds(1/2)saves(2/3)= 1.11 wounds
10 gunners
no wounds

This shows that even if the gunners are only shooting every other turn they are still killing more infantry than the archers. I agree with you that the archers will have a chance to shoot more often, but statistically speaking the handgunners will make up for their lack of shooting very quickly and overcome the archers kill ratio.

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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 12-30-10, 05:34 PM Thread Starter
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I fully agree that Handgunners are the best ranged separate unit choice as far as staying on my side of the table and throwing shots downrange. I've also had the thought to put detachments to the side for some of the reasons you mentions, but I also have the thought that my artillery, mortars in particular, will be able to whittle those horde blocks down a good bit before I engage them.

Which brings up another tactical point: if you're throwing alot of artillery down range most times it should prompt your opponent to come to you. So you could probably go with very minimal movement (maybe 1 turn normal move) and be able to shoot 4 or 5 turns with the Handgunners. Of course, this won't help on scenarios where you must take an objective. I guess this is where Knight and Pistollier/Outrider units swoop in in the last round or two.


Certainly food for thought. It would only get worse, I imagine, with the shift from light infantry to heavy infantry. As I mentioned above it does start to look like the Detachment system is best used defensively and that such units rarely should be considered to take objectives, especially those that they aren't a march move or two away from. Light cavalry/Heavy Cavalry or, ironically, units of Archers seem better suited to swoop in and claim them.

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post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 01-02-11, 03:03 PM
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Thought Archers had Longbows? Anyway, point stands that as Detachments, Handgunners, or the only ranged units worth taking.

In large units, having Archers move or fire allows them to stay out on the wing, and rack up kills against other archers and annoying units. As they have reasonable "Man stats", they can even take on Goblins etc, Light Elven Ranged Cavalry (Warhawk Riders and Ellyrion Reavers), the low tier Flying Monster (Eagle etc), while still firing. 20 of them in a tower can be fairly annoying as well.

For main units though, a unit of Handgunners backed by a Gold Wizard can get Rerolls to wound and AP, or a Fire Wizard gives them Flaming +1 to hit Attacks - which do effect ranged attacks. Handgunners get the most benefit from this, as they can sit back a bit, and get in an extra turn of shooting, and don't miss out on AP.

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post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 03-30-11, 02:10 PM
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I also thought that you could choose to stand and shoot with the detachment if the parent unit is charged. If that is the case, I believe even move-or-shoot weapons can react as such despite having moved on their controller's previous turn, thus giving you enhanced stopping power over the bow in that situation as well.

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