Third time round for reviews from the Empire Battalion box and I’m finally into the new kits. Yay. I present to you the Empire State Troopers.
Now I’m sure you’ve all come to terms with the new pricing format of the rank file for ‘new’ armies, which is 10 in a box for around £15 – £20? No? Me neither. The State Troopers are no different, but you do get a wealth of components to make them into either spearmen, swordsmen or halberdiers which is quite nice as you have everything you need to cover all the army options for a change (see Knightly Orders). Games Workshop made this one of their key objectives in all new releases and for the most part they’re succeeding – but at the cost of troops on the ground.
I don’t think the box of 10 is a problem as such, it’s just that if you want to do an infantry heavy army you’ll pay more as you need a lot of boxes to make the larger/horde units we’re being encouraged to take. And as there’s no balance in the numbers you get in a box between the elite and lesser army troops, this could discourage people from choosing the more numerous army choices over the smaller elite ones purely as matter of expense. Simply throwing a few extra models into the lesser troops would go a long way to redressing this imbalance.
When it came to the State Trooper frames I was actually quite surprised by the amount of detail crammed onto the main body components – armour, bags, belts, knives, kitchen sinks (okay, I made that one up), each one has something approaching a character model level of detail. Which is great, but at the same time not so great. The more I studied the models the more I was daunted by the prospect of painting up big blocks of 30 or 40 of them.
Overall though I really liked the kit, the models were very good and versatile enough to be turned to variety of poses if needed with the use of other components. There are a few bug bears, like the banner being a bit crap and demanding an instant trade with the one from the Hand Gunners box (see next review), not enough head choice (e.g. you can’t do all feathered), and the way the spear/halberd tips attach to the hafts is a bit finicky, but it’s more than up to the task and a big improvement on the previous sculpts. Oh, and I hate the guy with no shoes (personal choice).
I sized up the models for their possible paint job hoping to gain some inspiration as I’ve actually been struggling with what colour scheme to do my Empire army in – my general is from Marienburg with its Red, Blue and Yellow colours but really you can do anything you want as they’re all ‘mercenaries’. But Phil and I were both keen on tying in certain background elements – with the household colours being purple and white, plus I liked the idea of painting all the armour black.
The problem is Bogenhafen is very similar with a half white half purple uniform, so I figured by doing the same colours quartered and adding in the black armour and accessories it would provide enough of a difference for it to be distinct. This colour scheme translated very well to the state troopers and the quantities of armour on some of them meant the black would be the prominent feature I wanted. Unfortunately a couple of the bodies didn’t have any armour at all to reflect the somewhat inconsistent nature with which Empire soldiers are equipped, but hey, you can’t have it all – they’ll just be relegated to the back ranks. [And die first. – Ed.]
An added bonus for all the extra arms you get in the kit is that Forgeworld have actually released a kit that enables you to make use of them – Mannan’s Blades. They’re a group of Marienburg mercenary marines and would be perfect for my army, freeing those spare parts from their plastic framed prison.
I thought long and hard about how to assemble the 20 State Troops from the Battalion box. There are various opinions on which choice is best but I had to slant any advice towards the fact I would be largely facing tough, heavily armoured, Chaos Warriors – or worse. After the dreadful changes The Cruddace afflicted upon the Swordsmen (-1 Initiative and +1point) they’re usefulness has been seriously reduced. So I figured if I was to add them (probably in the form of Mannan’s Blades mentioned above) it would be at a later stage in a detachment capacity – so they were a no for now. I read somewhere that halberdiers were the best way to go for your blocks as they were statistically better is most situations, but I wasn’t convinced as the extra rank of attacks spears provided couldn’t be ignored.
I decided to put it to the test worked out the probabilities (because I’m cool like that) and the results were not so clear-cut as I had suspected. The short of it is Halberdiers are better the wider their formation is – and only against opponents that aren’t going to decimate you before you get to attack. This pretty much rules them out against Chaos despite the extra strength because A) you want as narrow a frontage as you can against Chaos armies to reduce the number of incoming attacks and B) those incoming attacks decimate the unit before you get to retaliate. The Spearmen have the (slim) chance of killing something simply because the extra rank provides more bodies than can be killed to actually attack back.
Armed with this knowledge I decided to go for blocks of Spearmen supported by the Halberdiers in detachments, where they would hopefully get more attacks to make their extra strength count. However, seeing as I only had 20 Troops and Spearmen needed more to be effective, I decided to go for a Halberdier block now and split them down into detachments once I added the necessary amount of Spearmen.
With everything decided it was onward towards getting things painted – to the sound of beating drums and blaring trumpets, and maybe the crack of a whip at my back… [The whip cracks a purely motivational. -Ed.]
Empire State Troopers are available from Firestorm Games priced £13.95.