On Thursday I got a chance to try the Empire again against some High Elves in a 2k game.
Things of note:
In my first turn I miscasted with both my casters and turned my level 4 into a level 2 and level2 into a level 1.
In my third turn all of my war machines misfired.
At the end of the sixth turn I still had most of my army on the table and my opponent had.... 5 models I think.
As we were playing the watchtower scenario, my opponent was victorious since he had a single character still in the tower at the end of the game. On points I would have solidly beaten him.
I definitely felt the sting of facing an elite close combat army with average troops, and the need the use magic and shooting to level the playing field. Not that Dark Elves don't like a good amount of magic and shooting, but with them it's more like 'which of my strategic weapons would I like to throw at which enemy unit'. With Empire it felt more like 'I'd better cut all the enemy units in half with shooting before they get across the table and then buff my troops so they can go toe-to-toe with whichever of them make it, otherwise I'm toast.'
All in all, I think it was a fun game. It definitely provides a different perspective on how the overall game works, which is useful, and I think I'll play them from time to time. I'm still not sure whether or not I'd like to spend more money on other Empire models or how much time I would devote to painting them, but I did enjoy it enough to keep experimenting.