Total War: WARHAMMER Wiki
Total War: WARHAMMER Wiki

Greatswords is a Empire melee infantry unit in Total War: Warhammer. Wielding double-handed swords and wearing heavy plate, Greatswords are a potent elite unit with an impressive melee strength.


Regiments of Greatswords garrison the castles of the Elector Counts and form their lord's honour guard on state occasions. These grim men are equipped with huge two-handed swords called zweihanders that can cleave an armoured Knight in twain with one blow. Greatswords are also adorned with superb suits of Dwarf-forged plate armour, for these elite troops are expected to fight in the thick of the bloodiest and most dangerous combats of a battle. Upon a soldier's induction into the esteemed ranks of the Greatswords, he is required to swear an oath never to take a backwards step in the face of the enemy. Every regiment of Greatswords has its own particular punishment for those who fail in their duty. However, such instances are extremely rare, and the history of the Empire is replete with heroic tales of regiments of Greatswords that have died to a man to protect the life of their liege lord, even after the rest of their army had been butchered.


  • Anti-Infantry: Anti-infantry units have an advantage against targets that are smaller than a horse. This advantage can be a damage bonus against small targets, superior weight used to smash through lighter enemies, or an explosive attack from range that effects a large area.
  • Armour-Piercing: The damage of armour-piercing weapons mostly ignores the armour of the target, making them the ideal choice against heavily-armoured enemies. They are often heavier and attack at a slower rate though, making them less efficient against poorly-armoured targets.
  • Armoured: Armoured units can block damage from any source apart from Armour-Piercing damage.


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Greatsword Tactics and Suggestions[]

Greatswords aren't meant to be used akin to your Swordsmen. Their melee stats are worse (especially given the campaign skill Honest Steel) but their main strength lies in the fact that they do comparatively high damage and do Armour piercing damage.

This leads one to two things:

  1. They're good at hitting armored things
  2. They're good at hitting stuff without being hit back in return.

General Use[]

The Greatswords are mainly used to take down armored infantry. They should be kept away from monstrous infantry, cavalry, and war machines like chariots or Steam Tanks. Greatswords shouldn't immediately go after the standard infantry of other factions if there are higher end threats on the field.

They are expensive to purchase and maintain and have no shields (for obvious reasons) to protect against missiles. This means you should use Swordsmen or Spearmen as your front line units and keep the Greatswords in reserve to be used where needed.

Where will they be needed?

To flank the enemy's armored units and or to aid in holding the line if need be. They are also effective when held in reserve and used to counter attack weak points in your lines.

Your shielded infantry must be at the front to absorb the missiles and charges of enemy infantry. Then have the Greatswords go around and charge from the flanks or the rear. However, they can also advance through the ranks of your common soldiers and aid in combat, just make sure the enemy is more likely to hit the shielded troops. The Swordsman and Spearmen(shields) have higher melee defense anyway, so they will tank and deflect the AP that heads towards the Greatswords.

The Greatswords, in turn, will swiftly eliminate armored foes.

Specific Tactics[]


State Troops: Due to the slow attack and movement, use the Greatswords for any of the following:

  • Have your own lower tier soldiers hold them in place as the Greatswords concentrate on a more pressing matter.
  • Have the Greatswords flank the front line
  • Have the Greatswords tank the charge, but with crossbowmen to shoot the troopers from the blind side as your cavalry/flagellants/state troops move in from the rear

Greatswords: Have artillery blast them while they are too far , then use either Outriders or Handgunners for ranged support. Have Swordsmen tank the charge as your Greatswords move to flank.

Large: Keep them away from Large units, let the Spearmen and Halberdiers take care of it.


Greatswords are incredibly effective against most units the Dwarfs have because of their high armour. Save the Greatswords for the heaviest unit on the battlefield like Longbeards, not Dwarf Warriors.


Goblins: Their tiny size and negligible armour makes them problematic to hit. Use AoE magic, Mortars, and Helstorm Rockets instead of Greatswords.

Orc Boyz: Use Swordsmen to tank their charge, Orcs have higher damage and health but have less attack and defense skill. Then use knights to smash their flanks or rear then retreat them to do it again to get the orcs to flee so you can focus on something else, or have another melee unit such as Flagellants, Greatswords, or (if they have nothing to do) Spearmen to kill them all quickly.

Orc Big 'Uns: These orcs are focused on fighting large units, thus they won't give it their all against your Greatswords. Their armour piercing is relatively small while you dish out far more, though the Greatswords should still be supported with missiles, flanking cavalry, and hero/lord abilities.

Trolls: These things are monstrous, use Halberds.

Night Goblins: They have poisoned attacks, better melee skill and damage, and vanguard deployment at the cost of worse leadership and armor, get them to rout and run them down with knights instead of using Greatswords.

Savage Orcs: They have no armor but have a resistance to non-magical attacks deal and a lot of base damage and melee skill with little armour piercing. I suggest that you send more than one Swordsmen unit than savage orcs to attack backed up by a wizard or priest with a couple of crossbows and pistoliers, with shock cav ready to flank.

Savage Orc Big 'Uns: The same as above, minus the cav.

Vampire Counts[]

Grave Guard: The great weapons variant will give you trouble, with them having cheaper costs and higher damage, thankfully they have less armour and skill. Proper support from heroes and armour-piercing missiles to ensure that the Greatswords don't rout and survive with minimal casualties.

Skeletons: The main infantry of the VC, send Swordsmen supported with crossbows and lords/heroes to deal with them. Greatswords or Knights will flank to reduce leadership and induce crumbling while pistoliers fire from horseback. Greatswords are not neccessary here, but they can crush skeletons for days and take minimal damage back.

Zombies: These things are made for the purpose of distracting you and bogging down your regiments. Use swordsmen and AoE to deal with them to leave the Greatswords free to focus on more important targets. If you want to get rid of them fast, have the Swordsmen tank the zombies while Empire Knights and/or Greatswords flank. This units is almost never worth wasting your Greatswords on.

Crypt Ghouls: These abominations don't do much damage but will slow down the Greatswords for other undead to take advantage of. Greatswords won't take damage from Crypt Ghouls, but will be weakened for other enemies.


Marauders: Swordsmen will suffice, Greatswords can crush them if necessary.

Chaos Warriors: The standard variant is easy pickings for Greatswords. The Great Weapons variant will be troublesome and should be avoided if possible. Their high armour piercing will put a sizable dent in your Greatswords.

Chosen: Similar to above, but all around harder for Greatswords to win. Needs other support to win the fight.

Forsaken: Armoured and Damage dealer, but little armour-piercing, so Greatswords will make quick work of them if they can catch them.


Ungor: Swordsmen are what are needed here, not Greatswords. Buff them with your Characters and spells or prayers. be wary of their stealth.

Gor Herd: Very little armor, good at dealing damage but not good at deflecting or withstanding it. Nor do they have high Leadership. Greatswords are well used to put them down, although the low armour means they are not put to full use.

Gorebulls: Send Halberdiers supported by Lords/Heroes, Handgunners, and cannons rather than Greatswords.

Bestigor: These units are well armoured and have solid armour piercing, making them good at attacking, but not so much in defending themselves. Greatswords are best used against this unit. Use support to protect and enhance the Greatswords as they attack Bestigors to win convincingly.

Wood Elves[]

Treekin, Treeman, Ancient Treeman, and Durthu: These guys are the only ones worthy of a Greatsword to the face. Don't bother using/bringing Greatswords against any other unit in the wood elves roster. One unit to chop through Wildwood Rangers, Eternal Guard, or Dryads is not a bad idea, but otherwise Greatswords are a liability against the intense missile and large units the Wood Elves bring.


Peasant Infantry: As tempting as it is to think of them as wet toilet paper. You must realise that their weakness serves a purpose, to make them a very tempting distraction. Be warned, there are experienced soldiers among them that have learned how to survive longer. While not possessing tremendous skill in striking or proper equipment, they have learned how to block and deflect better. This allows their lords and cavalry the time needed to flank and trample your army.

Peasant Mob: As meat-shields for the meat-shields, they don't hold the line, they simply slow you down. Greatswords are not necessary here.

Men-At-Arms: Same as above.

Battle Pilgrims: Bretonnian equivalents of Flagellants. As such they deal extra damage when having high leadership at the cost of having worse defense. They are better at holding the line than running away, unlike most other peasants. Greatswords will win convincingly here, but other methods are best.

Bretonnian Cavalry: Avoid the high shock damage of Knights, some of them have more armour piercing than others, so learn what charges you can take and which you can't.

Foot Squires: The only unit on the Bretonnian roster that a Greatsword is evenly matched with. I believe Greatswords win in a 1v1, but it will be a decently close fight that can be tipped by support.