Lol, it's been a LOOOOOOONG time since I ever saw anyone trying to make Spearmen work!
If I ever take Spearmen, it's only as a cheap wizard bunker, solely to soak up wounds. I never use them even in a bus capacity because they aren't cheap enough to be a tarpit, which is what you'd want for them to be, they won't ever win combat since they will be relying on their own Ld7, and once they lose steadfast, they'll be gone.
If you want a defensive unit, Swordsmen are the better choice. They come with a Parry save, which the Spearmen won't get even if they purchase a Shield upgrade, due to the Spears. You could add a Luminark (which I love), but at that point, you're really getting expensive for a unit that you are trying to save points on, just by opting for them. A Luminark for Swordsmen only buffs them against ranged weapons and magic missiles (which works GREAT with a Witch Hunter - everybody here has heard me sing about this a LOT). If I'm going infantry-heavy, like we seem to be talking about here, I'll take a parent unit of 40 Swordsmen for their defense (and having a higher WS makes them better at hitting their opponents + the 5+ 6++ save = edge over Spearmen) with two detachments of 20 Halberdiers. That way, if the detachments are charged instead (which is often the downfall of the detachment system), then they can stand a chance on their own. While a 20 man unit of Halberdiers isn't optimal, it is a big enough threat that it can't be ignored. I can't say that for a Spearmen bus.
Something else that can be said for taking one unit of Halberdiers or Swordsmen over two Spearmen units, is the division of character buffs. You'd either have to double your characters for each Spearmen units, or simply go without, which, Empire as an army choice, HEAVILY relies upon.
Really, all Empire core infantry choices are space fillers, who's primary goal is to tie up other enemy units while the Empire hammer units can get in there to do the damage and provide more CR through flanking and additional ranks. The difference is that you either want them to last as long as possible (Swordsmen) or do a bit of damage (Halberdiers). Most players want the damage dealers and don't care how many they lose in achieving it - which is a good tactic in 8th games. That's why you see more Halberdiers normally played.
I would say Spearmen could be considered a better choice than Swordsmen IF they were able to take a Parry save while still using Spears. At that point, you'd be choosing between an additional rank of attacks over a higher hit rate, BUT the Spearmen could take more bodies, giving them the edge, IMO. Sadly, this is not the case. Stupid rule.
I mean you could obviously buy a Luminark to buff them but it is a pretty expensive purchase for a 6++. For the same points you could have a Captain and a Warrior Priest for Cold Blooded, Hatred and Battle Prayers..
But the 6++ is only one reason you'd bring a Luminark. There's also the additional DD, charging Impact Hits and the BIG FREAKING LASER CANNON!
My armies: Empire, Dwarfs, High Elves, Wood Elves, Dark Elves, Lizardmen, Skaven, Tomb Kings, Ogre Kingdoms, Orcs and Goblins, and Skitarii (40K).
Hi all, I've been doing some MathHammer on state troops (plus greatswords)... comparing 3 layouts: 2x5 detachments (no command) 5x6 Bus (full command) 10x4 Horde (full command)
I've started with 3 common opponents: Elite Horde (HE Swordmasters 10x4) Quality Chaff (Dwarf Warriors HW+S 5x4) Cheap Anvil (Night Goblins 10x4)
I think the assumption seems to be that Halberdiers are simply superior across the board, but that's not strictly true... at least not always! Note that these findings are based on the raw troop cost only, no upgrades to equipment, no buffs, no characters etc. It also assumes a frontal attack which wouldn't necessarily be true, particularly with detachments. Lastly, it gives averages that may not make sense if taken literally. For instance, a detatchment of 10 halberdiers takes 20 wounds from the swordmaster Horde, lasting 0.5 rounds on average- not logical, but purely theoretical if you get my drift! It also gives back 2.8 wounds on average... in reality they'd all be dead & would therefore give no wounds back, but its in there for completion.
First off, to echo what many have said on here over the years - all state troops suck. They're all simply overcosted for what they are and what they bring to the table if you'll excuse the pun! I think the additional 1 point cost added across the board, in addition to the slight nerf their detachment rules got was wholly unnecessary. The 'points differential' column indicates the difference between points lost vs points killed, and broadly means: Flat (close to 0) - point for point, the units are evenly matched. EG, if your unit costs 200 points but the enemy unit costs 400, your unit should be about half as good. If you increased your unit cost to 400, they would be evenly matched and the combat would be tight. Negative - point for point your unit performs worse than the opposition Positive - point for point your unit performs better than the opposition As you can see from the table included below, our state troop point differentials are almost always negative, meaning they're poor value for money.
Winners in each category: Detatchment (5x2) - take naked halberdiers. At this level spears don't benefit from their additional rank, and Swordsmen are too costly & don't hit hard enough. Halberdiers get a fractionally better combat res on this basis, despite having an average -33pt differential. Note I've included Greatswords- I'm fully aware they can only be parent units- the stats are included for completeness!
Bus - Spearmen, followed closely by Halberdiers. Spearmen nip the differential slightly costing more, and aren't much behind Halberdiers in dmg output, averging 2.5 wounds vs 2.9. They die at the same rate so spearmen pinch it on a slightly lower cost.
Horde- Greatswords! (OK not a state troop I know) Followed by Halberdiers. Greatswords might not be the first choice for a Horde, but they can put some good damage out, particularly on weaker units. Halberdiers come next, but still end up with a -20 differential, and average -5 combat resolution across the 3 match ups. (OK the swordmaster Horde vs state troops is a bit mean)
Quick unit summary: Spearmen- taken in a bus is about the only use for them if you're tight on points. Don't use for detachments, and in hordes they die too quickly & lack the hitting power of halberds. Halberdiders- best all-round state troop, but still poor value & will lose combat against all but the weediest of opponents Swordsmen- will last the longest due to their 5+/6+ save, but are too expensive & don't hit hard enough to improve their combat res Freeguild- avoid. Lack of any armour makes them too much of a liability!