Shields+ hand weapon got a small nerf, the new horde rules make the cheaper troops like halberdiers much better. In spears vs halberds the +1S is better than the extra attacks. Also the fact that troops can now strike back means they can put the S4 to use at last.
Swords still make the best detachment as detachments are used to deny ranks, hence the high survivability is useful
I tend to use Halberds as well, but it really is much to do with what you have. Horde units are perfectly fine as Empire if you don't have halberds. I have always kept mine from 5th edition. (Altdorf Regiment...) But swords and spears are and can be just as good, especially if they are buffed with the right lores or priest prayers.
As for detachments... swords and shield will serve you well, I tend to use Free Company for Army fluff more than any other reason.
The thing to remember is, each is slightly different, but each does the same job as an anchor unit. (your large block). While your detachment swings into one side... always make your detachments 15 strong min. and then hopefully your knights/greatswords/steam tank?/ wizard with a stick with a nail in it/ come down on the other side or further along and slowly.... just slowly.... the face of the WOC player facing you begins to tear slightly.... which you then as an Empire player... scream... yes yes! let me lick your bitter tears...yummy....yummy more! more!.. refreshing! as they stand in the middle of the LGS.
(can you tell I have serious hatred of Chaos issues?)
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