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Beginner's guide to Warmaster Army Selection

One of the more common questions I receive is about how to choose the units for an army.

It is always difficult to tell which units to choose, because tactics and composition are dependent of each other. One player might be very successful with an army composition and a different  player might not be able to win a single game with the same army. Still there are some basic guidelines which help to get you started. Please note that those guidelines are for beginners and that as soon as you get comfortable with the rules, units and tactics,  you will not need them anymore and probably compose your armies in a way quite opposite to them.

About Units (i.e. everything none character)
  1. Have about 10 units per 1000 points (this will usually lead to no or only one (small) monster in a 1k army). This will give you an reasonable breakpoint and also enables you to have 2 to 4 task forces (a brigade with a purpose so to say).
  2. Decide on your units with brigades (task forces) in mind.
  3. Buy at least one ordinary infantry per missile infantry unit. Build brigades consisting of missile and ordinary infantry. Putting the missiles in a line (so all of them can shoot) at the front and the ordinary infantry in the second line supporting the missile infantry. This increases the half-life (half-unlife for Undead) of your infantry. 
  4. Usually it is not a mistake to choose some artillery (except if you play chaos than you are cheating). It is favorable to have a battery of artillery (that can stand and shoot) between two units of missile infantry backed up by ordinary infantry. I.e. If you have a battery of cannons between two units of crossbowmen each backed up by a unit of halberdiers and the cannons are charged, by anything other than a single stand of 20x40 mm size, you will have 10 shots with stand and shoot plus a support of at least 4. The attacker can try to reduce this to 7 shots and 2 or 3 support, but that's still much better than having the cannons charged unprotected.
  5. Have one striking force per 1000 points. A striking force has between 2 and 4 units that can deal a blow. Like 4 units of Knights or 2 units of chariots or a mixture of Chaos Hounds and Chaos Knights. You have to take out some enemy units eventually and that are the guys to do it.
  6. Have something (preferably fast) to block your opponents units or harass them. Any kind of cavalry (preferably with ranged weapons) or fliers are perfect choices for that.
  7. Have at least one unit per 1000 points that you are ready to sacrifice. These can be part of any of the above or a completely new entry. This units main purpose it to draw missile fire and being bait to lure enemies to charge or to protect a unit from an unwanted charge.
Characters (i.e. everything none none character)
  1. Buy your General an Orb of Majesty. Often there is a decisive charge and you can bet that you will fail the command roll when you need it most. 
  2. If you play a small game (1k) and you have a General with a command value of 10, don't take any other character. For the points saved you get one or two units which are more useful, as your General can control the army without any help. 
  3. As a rule of thumb choose one character per 4 units. A General with Command of 10 counting as 3 characters with command of 9 as 2 and with command of 8 as 1 character. 
  4. Don't use a sorcerer on a 1k game except if you have some cunning plan or play Undead.
Magic Items
  1. Buy an Orb of Majesty for your General. See above.
  2. Only buy other magic items if you have some points left which you can not buy a unit from. Favorites of mine are the Ring of Magic and the Scroll of Dispelling for Sorcerers and the Sword of Might and Sword of Fate for Heroes. The magic items are quite expensive compared to what units do. They still have their uses and for certain tasks, they are better suited than units. But you have to plan your moves around that, something I would not advise to do in the first few games.
Sample army

This is a 1k sample Empire army following the guideline above.

  General with Orb of Majesty 155  
  Hero 80  
2 Crossbowmen 110 2 Missile and
2 Halberdiers 90 2 ordinary Infantry units
1 Flaggelants 70 Striking or Blocking
2 Knights 220 Striking Force
2 Pistoliers 190 Harassing/Blocking
1 Cannon 85 Artillery
10   1000