Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Future of an Empire

In my last post I was asked how far I plan to take the expansion of my Empire army. I didn't have an immediate answer, because I don't tend to plot out an army and set a definite limit on how large it's going to get.

I have written before about my love of big games of Warhammer. I have also talked in particular about my plans to recreate certain "legendary battles" in the Warhammer world, most notably the Battle at the Gates of Kislev. These ambitions have been pivotal in my drive to paint a really huge Empire army - the Empire are involved in a large number of the greatest battles the Old World has ever seen, and the lack of other large Empire armies kicking about the club means that if I want it to happen, it will be my problem.

Kislev Cavalry
I posted a picture of my whole army in my previous post. As you can see in that picture, the army is getting pretty big. But it has a disproportionate number of Knights compared to everything else. Below is how the cavalry look when you split them out from the rest of the army.
The large number of cavalry is a direct result of my Kislev ambitions, and needing an entire army of Empire cavalry for the battle. 120 Knights weigh in at about 3000 points, which is a good solid basis for the army. Add in the Wolfygryphs, Steam Tank, Outriders and Pistoliers, and you're looking at 4000 points, plus characters. It's not yet where I'd like it to be, but it's in the right ballpark. Painting the Kislevite cavalry I have managed to acquire and pulling in the odd unit from friends should probably be enough for the effect I'm after.
A very large Empire cavalry army - really where all my army's points come from
Current cavalry (my forces only):
40 Knights Snow Leopard
40 Knights of the White Wolf
40 Venators/Knightly Orders
8 Doggies/Demigryph Knights
5 Outriders
5 Pistoliers
Steam Tank

Kislev Infantry
Once the cavalry army is settled, I can move onto the infantry. The situation here is not as grim as the cavalry was. The two Empire armies of friends that I plan to press into service only have 30 Knights between them, however they have well over 200 infantry. It's not enough, but it means there is something to work with before I add my own stuff. I have 250 or so painted, once you allow for the Kislev defenders stealing my Kossars.
My Empire infantry - a decent army, but no match for the size of the cavalry
450 infantry sounds to me like a goodly number, however the sheer scope of the Kislev game and the regiments they're likely to be meeting on the field means the Empire infantry are not really in good shape. If you consider the damage output of Chaos Warriors and Chosen in Horde formation, you will know what I mean. Units of 20 and 30 State Troops won't cut it - in fact, they might not survive long enough to take a break test. The Empire lines will need strong numbers, and they will need to be grouped into very large regiments wherever possible, to give them a fighting chance. This sort of thinking affects my planning as I work out what to focus on.

Current infantry (my forces only):
59 Halberdiers
43 Leopard Company/Spearmen
40 Swordsmen
35 Teutogen Guard/Greatswords
35 Kossars/Free Company
29 Flagellants
21 Handgunners
18 Marksmen of Miragliano/Crossbowmen
8 Halflings/Archers
Various war machines

The Great Reserve
It probably comes as no surprise that I have a fair stockpile of unpainted Empire models, waiting to be thrown into the fray. As I plot and scheme for these big games, I try to do inventories on models and allocate them in order to meet my requirements. I find a place for everything, but in truth I know it will take too long to paint them all, and so some will make it and some will not. I'd love to think I will get them all painted one day, but at the moment that is nothing more than a fantasy.

Below is a picture of my Empire "reserve". I have the models to make each of the units in the size indicated by the movement trays (and the labels), although for most units that includes Ogre unit fillers, since I fully intend to continue with that plan. The picture ignores a lot of random things like characters, but it's very accurate in terms of my unit plans.
My intimidatingly large unpainted Empire army. I've labelled things and included a key below...
The Great Reserve (as seen above)
1 - 5 Outriders
2 - 10 Pistoliers
3 - 12 Kislev Horse Archers (there are a few more unassembled)
4 - 10 Kislev Winged Lancers
5 - 30 Knights (maybe Reiksguard, maybe Morr)
6 - 15 Crossbowmen (Marksmen of Miragliano)
7 - 40 Swordsmen
8 - 40 Free Company
9 - 16 Crossbowmen
10 - 20 Handgunners
11 - 10 Crossbowmen (Braganza's Besiegers)
12 - 20 Handgunners
13 - 50 Halberdiers
14 - 50 Halberdiers (Ricco's Republican Guard)
15 - 50 Halberdiers
16 - Mortar (Halfling Hot Pot)
17 - 35 Kislev Kossars
18 - 70 Greatswords
19 - 32 Spearmen (Leopold's Leopard Company)
20 - Cannon
21 - Celestial Hurricanum
22 - 40 Flagellants
23 - 36 Swordsmen (Fur-cloaked hammerers)
24 - Sundry characters

A rough tally of the list above comes to over 550 models. I won't say it's impossible, but even if I manage to keep up painting momentum it will take a very long time. It's going to be a question of priorities.

A Question of Colours
When I started painting my Empire army, I was deliberately focused on the white and purple colour scheme, as I have mentioned in the past. As I went along I began to add the odd variation in where I felt it appropriate - Kislev units add red, the Halflings add green, etc. However, I gradually came to the realisation that if I was going to follow through on my Kislev plans (and other huge games), I needed to consider a limit to my current colour scheme. Not just to preserve my sanity (such as it is), but to give the games a sense of scale. The Battle at the Gates of Kislev and other epic battles like Hel Fenn involved vast coalitions from a number of provinces and cities. Painting everything the same colour sells this element a bit short, and I feel it would look more convincing and grand if forces from a number of different places were represented.

My first thought was to split out a decent army in its own right (say 3000pts) of another province, and paint it as a second, unified force. This was appealing in some ways, but I'm not sure it will give enough of the mixed feel that I am after. I now favour focusing on several different provinces and having a few units from each. They won't be armies in their own right, but that's not important - I already have a painted Empire army.

Various units in the reserve have been earmarked for a different province, although I haven't really planned that too carefully. I'll probably aim for 2-3 provinces in addition to my core of white and purple. The armies of my friends are painted in the schemes of Nuln (mainly black with a bit of yellow in this case) and Altdorf (the traditional red and blue you see so often). I will definitely include a Stirland force (yellow and green), and perhaps Hochland (red and green). This would give the overall force a decent spread of colour. Unfortunately this is all a lot of painting away...

The Way Forward
So, where to from here? I can't focus on everything at once, and I can't base my plans on the assumption that I will somehow get everything painted before I run out of patience (great as that would be). I need short-term plans as well as long-term ambitions. So, I shall state my plans for the next few things I am going to work on:

As mentioned last post, I still need to finish painting a dozen Knights. Their bases and armour are done. The only time-consuming bit left is the horseflesh. Then it's just a few details before I can move on to something more interesting. If I don't do these first though, they'll never get done. 

Republican Guard/Halberdiers
These guys need to be converted to carry halberds. They will also need a few Ogres created, and then of course they must be painted. I've had this unit for a very long time, so it will feel like an achievement when they're done. And who doesn't love halberdiers in full plate armour?

Free Company or Swordsmen
I think after the Republican Guard, I need to start work on some of those regiments from other provinces. I'll want some of them for the big game for certain, so I need to knuckle down and get started.

There you go, a stated plan. But no plan survives contact with the unpainted enemy...


  1. You clearly need more halflings. A Horde of halflings.

    1. I don't think that many halfling models exist.....

  2. That is a nice break down of your plans. I really like the pictures and those Empire army is MMMMAAAASSSSSIIIVVVEEEE!!!

    I like the idea of spreading it out among the provinces, not only will it stop you getting bored of the one colour but it adds some characterization to the army(armies?)

    I also agree with Puddingwrestler. Halfling horde!!