So if you don't know the Empire army that I've been working on was one of my old friends who moved far from here (IL to NY) and left his armies behind with the invite to play them. Well, I couldn't just play it... See he bought a lot off of eBay and the stuff he didn't, well... he wasn't the greatest painter on the planet which is nothing you can really fault anyone for. However, since I do plan on playing it in tournaments I decided it needed some work. You've (if you've been reading the blog that is) seen my post about working on the Spearman unit.
See at one time he owned 20 Swordsmen, 20 Spearmen and 20 Halberds. Unfortunately 20 men is not enough for 8th edition in most games and his Halberds and Spearmen literally had 90% of the tips broken from their weapons when I got hold of them. Since I couldn't find a place on the net to get replacement Halberds I decided to turn the 2 units of 20 into one giant unit of 40 Spears. If you read any internet wisdom Spears are near total garbage in 8th edition. At least when compared to Halberds because of the higher Strength attack.
There is a solution to this however. MINDRAZOR! Yeah, I know, I don't like the sound either, but you have to admit that it does solve the low Strength issue. See a unit of 40 Spears ranked into Horde formation can put out a lot of attacks. Assuming full command and you charge your receiving 31 attacks. If you get charged you get that 4th rank so the full 40 attacks. That's quite a few attacks at (if you get Mindrazor cast on them) strength 7. Needless to say that's a pretty heinous round of attacks.
Of course, the problem here is banking on not only getting that spell but on successfully casting it. So you'll be leaving a lot on this unit to chance. There is at least 2 other tacitcal options that you can choose to make this unit useful.
The first is still relying on magic but a significantly less powerful spell. Taking a Wizard with Lore of Beasts. The Signature Spell for Beasts is Wyssan's Wildform. This is great in two ways; you not only get +1 Strength so that your mass of attacks is at Strength 4 which causes a significant bit more damage then 3 as on average you'll be wounding on a 50% chance as opposed to a roughly 32% chance per hit. The other thing is the unit becomes Toughness 4 meaning that the odds they'll survive those attacks back increases quite a bit as well thus leaving the unit alive and in place longer.
The other way to increase the units effectiveness is by placing a Warrior Priest in the unit. This has multiple benefits as well. First is that the unit will gain the Hatred special rule allowing them to re-roll all of their missed hits in the 1st round of combat. This at the Spearman's puny Weapon Skill of 3 can be a big difference. The other is the prayers that the priest can cast. Well, one prayer really and that is Unbending Righteousness which makes the Priest and the unit he has joined Unbreakable ensuring that they will sit in combat until the day is done. Of course again this is relying on a casting roll, but at the lowest power level to get off of any of the things thus far mentioned.
My current plan is to use a grouping of these bonuses. I plan on putting the Warrior Priest in the unit and then either fielding a Shadows Wizard or Beasts Wizard. I know I could do both, but that just seems overkill. I will probably go Shadows as a test first as the other spells in that lore seem more useful to me than Beasts. Along with the Priest this means in a squabble the unit will be swinging if charged 31 attacks with re-rolls to hit at Strength 7 if I get the spells off. And even if that mass of heavy attacks doesn't kill enough to win you the combat they should be Unbreakable anyway.
I'm well aware that this is a lot of faith on numbers but I don't plan on the army being super competitive, just fun. Plus if things start to go south or you believe they will you can always reform the unit into a long block instead of wide losing your Horde formation but gaining Steadfast for another round or two of combat.
There are numbers of other things that are possible with this unit, such as giving the Priest the Stubborn Crown or getting items that auto pass break checks and unit banners that give bonuses, but we'll leave those for now. Hopefully you found this of interest and it gives you readers something to think about.