Are some units balanced, while not being optimal?

I’ll preface this by saying that units that are not balanced right should be fixed, but how is not what I want to discuss.
Please don’t use this thread to complain about your army.

Some units; when considered in a vacuum, appear to be balanced right, but are not considered optimal because another unit in the army fills the role better.
Usually because that unit has a little more of what makes it good at the role or (more commonly) a little less of what it doesn’t need.

The most obvious example is skeletons vs zombies in the Undead list.
Zombies are considered more optimal because the extra De skeletons have is considered more than necessary (zombies having better synergy helps too).
Skeletons cost the appropriate points for what they do though and their profile fits what the models are.

Similarly (although they could use a bump)
ironwatch are outdone by other shooting options in the dwarf list.

It seems to me that the units are in the list simply to give the option to field them, rather than be a part of how the list is designed/to add a role or capability the list needs.
Mantic make models for skeletons and ironwatch. Most collections of undead have skeletons and not having rifles and/or crossbows as a option in a dwarf army seems… wrong (there are also many quarrelers and thunderers in the world).
Crossbows let one run low(er) technology dwarfs if that your thing.

The question is is that a problem?
I don’t think so. I don’t think balancing with points can solve it if it is a problem.
As long as games are fair I’m not sure it’s an issue if some units are not there for the top table at master’s, but rather to let you run your army your way.

What do you think?
Do you have an example of other units that fit this description?

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I’m not a fan of units - like crossbows/rifles & cannon/siege artillery - where the only difference is that one is better and costs slightly more. Some other distinction - better range/move and fire - makes it a more interesting choice, and harder to say which one is optimal.

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I think, there should be somehing to push skeletons a bit. I’m talking synergies here. Zuinok Iceblood does that a bit. Mantics Skeletons are brilliant and I want to field them (and do so). Just give me a slightly better reason.
Overall I think most units are ‘useable’. I don’t go for best, all the time. As long as every unit has it’s role and is a viable choice, everything is fine by me.
Having the options to play armies in different styles or themes is important!


Multi-role chariots - the option’s there…

Just make zombies irregular… :smiley:

Having characters that synergize with certain units or give particular lackluster units a boost (aura of some kind?) Would change things up a bit. I know from other games that taking abilities that boost range or chance to hit makes shooting units, otherwise crappy, pretty nice. This of course comes at a cost to not taking some other nice stuff but it gives some flavor to armies.

The danger is making the synergy TOO good so that’s all you end up seeing on the board.


from a simple point of view, having options that are not optimal is not a problem as long as they are balanced

there are not infinite available roles on the battlefield and there will always be 1 unit doing the job better than any other
but being able to chose from different units for the very reason that you like the look or the theme without going to hinder you in game is important

I also like synergies, as long as they are not too strong and making it mandatory to take the unit

worst case scenario is either of not having any options or having too many options with everything but one being bad


The issue tends to be over the very cheap unlock units- zombies being the obvious example, but rabble are in a similar position. Their ability on the table is less important than what they allow you to

In my view view one solution is to drop the US of these down one (so reg is 1, horde 2, legion 3). Means the army build is still viable (making them irregular would impact a LOT of people’s armies) but there is a far greater benefit from taking “better” units.


Of course making Zombies irregular would impact a lot of peoples armies. Isn’t the point of making a change to, uh. Change things.

Given that Skeletons and Zombies have the same offensive output, and the better defense on Skeletons is negated pretty darn often, Skeletons will never be good enough while Zombies exist, unless you super heavily discount them. Or change Zombies to be less Do Everything.

Mantic already announced that they won’t nerf anything in the upcoming CoK.
So, even though Skeletons may get better somehow, Zombies won’t get worse for sure.

Oh boy I can’t wait for another useless aura that won’t fix the problem. Do you ever see Zuinok used? Do you think he’s better than the Necromancers Vicious aura which isn’t stuck on a shitty caster with locked in Fireball for too many points?

We’ll see. But given how the list is set up, Skeletons just don’t match up in a meta full of Crush 2.

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I didn’t meant to say that Zuinock is good, but I like the direction. Trying to fix things with synergies rather than destroying another unit for it.
Maybe Revenant Kings with an optional buff for Skeletons would be cool for Army of Darkness themed lists.
CS remains a problem though…


Just to take this in slightly different direction, is there a case for tailoring scenarios to favour certain troop types? I’ m not saying this would solve everything but it might be worth considering if there is a common theme here.
Writing without knowing the details, if the problem with zombies and skeletons is that zombies are as good in most situations for a cheaper points cost, can you devise a scenario where the differences are critical? If so, would this be the same for other less-favoured units?


Unit strength is definetly something that could change the meta a bit. If Zombies would score less (regiments maybe not scoring at all?) than comparable but pricier units, their usufulness would suffer a bit without turning everything upside down.

Skeletons cost a third more for usually-negated defense, that’s it. Their offensive profile is the same as Zombies. Any synergies will have to be noticably better to outperform the Necro’s vicious aura, which also affects Zombie Trolls and Goreblights… and I fear it might just be another elite aura with further restrictions.

And yeah Skeleton Spears and Zombies cost the same point per unit strength. 70 points gets you 2 for Zombies, 105 gets you 3 for spears. If only scoring was the only thing that mattered.

If you want to make the difference matter, give Skeletons an aura that’s better than the Necro’s, buff their melee, or reduce their cost. Or, of course, reduce the prevalence of Crush 2 and Def 5/6 which makes the Crush 2 so necessary… which won’t happen.

:thinking: Hmm… Well, I don’t know hiw to make them a more useful option. I leave that to more talented generals.

The question is if it needs to be fixed, not how to fix one of the examples.

I suppose theoretically every available unit should have a role to fill to some extent. Yes some will be better at it than others but that ‘better’ should have a cost or the ‘not as good’ a discount. It’s why I think certain units should synergize with others differently to bring more and varied flavors to the board.

Sorry, I think my answer to ‘should unbalanced units be fixed’ is yes but the full answer is pretty in depth. But hey, I’m just glad I’ve got a good, fun game to play that isny setting me back my truck payment for the month.

I’d probably take skeletons for the aesthetics.

Leaving zombies stood around at the back feels wrong - I imagine them surging forward. Maybe if they sort of Cloak of Deathed themselves - a sort of zombie half-life negated by Lifeleech in combat. Probably easier and less complicated to give them 0 unit strength though.

With no nerfs, might have to be fixed next time around.