State troops warhammer 8th edition the empire overview
In the game
State troops make up the bulk of the empire's armies and are by far the most numerous, they are the common infantry soldier of the empire and each city and state trains and maintains a vast standing army of them. Formed from rank upon rank of common men the soldiers of the empire are neither the most skillful, strongest, toughest or fastest of the warhammer races (in game terms they rank amongst the worse). Instead the soldiers of the empire rely on steel, tactics, black powder weapons and war machines to overcome there many foes though they are not above the terror of melee combat when called to battle.
In games terms state troops are men equipped with a variety of different weapons and armour and all share the same stat line with the exception of swordsmen. They may all be either a regimental unit or a detachment with the exception of free company militia who may only be a detachment. Most of the state troops have had an increase in points cost, though archers have actually been reduced and spearmen remain the same. Also gone is the ancestral heirloom rule allowing one unit of state troops to take a magical banner if a general of the empire or Karl Franz was your general.
Regimental units and detachments
The old 7th edition detachment rules has under gone some significant changes. The supporting fire and counter charge rules remain largely unchanged though the supporting charge rule has now gone. One of the biggest changes is that detachments now come out of the same points slot as the main regimental unit rather then no slot. As with the exception of greatswords all regimental units are core this means the bulk of them will be coming from your core allowance.
Regimental units now provide not only leadership to their detachments but also pass on other psychology rules the main up stay of this is that warrior priests now pass on hatred to detachments whilst safe within the regimental unit. Other rules passed on include frenzy, hold the line, immune to psychology, stubborn, steadfast and stupidity. Staying with the warrior priests their augment spells also apply to a regimental unit detachments allowing them to buff a large number of models. These changes make detachments much more viable in 8th edition, they are also a way to get small expendable units in your force.
Probably the most useful of all the core state troops, halberds give the wielder a bonus of +1 strength in close combat but do require two hands to use. Overall this increase in strength to 4 from 3 makes the biggest difference in games terms given that warrior priests give re rolls to hit and that higher strength also affects armour saves. This tends to make them the most commonly seen melee state troop. Equipped with light armour halberdiers may take shields though as this only protects them against ranged attacks it is often not worth the extra cost as numbers is often a better defence. The points cost of halberdiers has increased in 8th edition warhammer.
As the name suggests these are men of the empire armed with spears, they are also the cheapest of all the state troops now. Spearmen remain the same in 8th edition as they were in 7th edition. Spears are a more defensive option and grant an extra rank of attacks, they are only really effective against lower toughness foes.
Spearmen can take full command and have the option of also equipping shields for an increase in points. This increases their save to 5+ whether it is worth it will depend on the opponent you are facing, often numbers is a better defence then a low armour save.
Swordsmen are effectively armed with hand weapon and shield combined with light armour. This gives them a 5+ armour save as well as a parry save. Skilled beyond their peers swordsmen also have a weapon skill of 4.
Swordsmen have suffered in the change to 8th edition from 7th edition they are now more expensive point wise and have a lower initiative. This makes them the most expensive melee state troop and given that strength is generally a better stat then weapon skill makes halberdiers more often then not a better selection.
Free company militia
Free company come equipped with additional hand weapons, they are also the only unit that cannot be a regimental unit they can only be detachments. Totally unarmoured you are relying on the extra attack to make a difference. With the hatred from warriors priests and the hammer of sigmar augment spell allowing re rolls to wound free company can make quite a powerful combat unit, with the new detachment rules they do not even have to be in the same unit.
Best melee state troop?
No prizes for guessing what these guys are armed with, yes of course crossbows. Forgoing the armour penetration of handguns, crossbows do have an increased range to compensate. This gives you some tactical options where the extra range is potential more beneficial then the armour save modifier. This extra range can be used to match the range of your opponents missile attacks or to actually out range them. Crossbow men have increased slightly in cost in 8th edition.
Handgunners fire the well known empire handguns which are know for there armour piercing shots. With a strength of 4 this makes it a -2 save modifier enough to strike fear into the heart of any cavalry. A marksman (handgunner champion) gets a choice of black powder weapons other then his handgun for an additional cost. These are brace of pistols (shorter range, always stand and shoot and an extra attack in melee), hochland long rifle (sniper rifle) and repeater handgun (more shots). Handgunners have increased in points cost slightly in 8th edition.
Archers are the only empire core troop that have the skirmisher special rule, armed with bows this makes archers the only core mobile shooting unit available to the empire. Archers are the only missile unit that have reduced in cost in 8th edition.
Archers can be useful for picking off faster and more maneuverable foes who may be able to out range or move out of the line of fire of slower move or fire weapons, for example lightly armoured fast cavalry and similar units. They can also be used to block these units off from getting at your war machines whilst still getting a few shots off.
Best missile state troop?
Generally state troops fall into two categories, melee troops or missile troops and each particular unit has there own little quirks, advantages and disadvantages. The improvement in the detachment rules make them a more viable choice now in 8th edition particularly with the addition of a warrior priest or two. With the addition of the steadfast and horde rule state troops can actually dish out some damage though they rely mainly on numbers to soak damage up.
Shooting units are generally less useful in 8th edition due to the increased charge range of units and lower chance of march blocking. Both these factors cut down the number of turns you get to shoot however they are still useful for dealing with small fast cavalry and other units and knocking off the odd enemy knight. They can also be useful for knocking a wound or two off bigger models such as monsters and the various chariot type units such as the mortis engine every army now seems to be getting.
Melee units have two main uses either to rank up and hold enemy units up with the steadfast rule or to horde up and grind down enemy units over a number of turns. Empire troops are still poor compared to almost every core enemy unit though. However with the new synergy's from units such as the warrior priest, witch hunters, luminark of hysh and the celestial hurricanum plus augments and hexes from magic spells state troops can become a fearsome prospect for an enemy to face.