Presenting: Least used units per army! (from the "Nick dataset")

Now updated with 6 big 2021 events!

Nick Williams released a dataset of tournament army lists from 12 different 3rd ed Tournaments in January this year. Big thanks to Nick, and also big thanks to Tom Annis for sending me the link to more data for 2021 events!
The specific events are listed at the bottom of this post.

Using this dataset (now of 18 total events in 2020 & 2021) I thought it would be an exciting opportunity to use some simple statistics to indicate which units in all the armies were “least used” up to that point in time.

Pointing to these issues could help the RC target some tests for tweaks that can increase the relevance of all entries in the KOW army lists, ensuring a wide variety of viable list designs and more broad use of all types of units.

[New definition of “least used!”]
“Least used” units are now units that used in no more than 10% of their Faction’s army lists.
(rounded up or down to nearest whole number. So 10-14 lists = 1 as limit, 15-24 lists = 2 as limit, etc.)

This is a simpler more straightforward definition than the previous one (using usage level at the 20th percentile of usage counts over units as limit. Yep its a bit arcane, lets drop that.).

“Usage” itself inside a single list is defined as a binary outcome (yes/no).
This reflects that units are different in terms of their “multiple-ness” and makes the evaluation more robust in that sense. Also, the subtype of unit (troop, regiment, horde etc) is not taken into account, they are all lumped together to increase robustness (although it’s a slight trade-off for specificity of course).

Only armies that had at least 10 lists total in these 18 events are included in the analysis!
Exceptions are made for Twilight Kin who where included in the last version, and Ratkin Slaves due to special request. List count is written above each army, but some list counts will be inflated for armies that are very often used as allies. Havent been able to separate that very well yet in the PDF parsing.

What type of help do these units need to become more viable?
That is a hard one to say as a blanket statement, but it has to be noticeable.
In the order of a 10% point cost discount or a decent buff of the same theoretical value could probably be the starting group for thinking about it. But in many cases the problem might be that of distinct army roles, synergy problems etc, so there is no blanket statement that fits all.

On to some results then!

Some character with very long names and symbols have some parsing errors, like Ba’su’su the Vile, so therefore I have excluded named characters going forward. Might follow up with a post specialized for those later.

The least used units:

– Abyssal Dwarfs: 33 army lists in sample (up from 23) –
|Abyssal Dwarfs|Abyssal Berserkers|
|Abyssal Dwarfs|Abyssal Grotesque Champion|
|Abyssal Dwarfs|Dragon Fire-team|
|Abyssal Dwarfs|G’rog Mortar|
|Abyssal Dwarfs|Hellfane|
|Abyssal Dwarfs|Taskmaster on Chariot|
|Abyssal Dwarfs|Katsuchan Rocket Launcher|
|Abyssal Dwarfs|Supreme Iron-caster on Great Winged Halfbreed|

– Basileans: 28 army lists in sample – (up from 17)
|Basileans|Abbess on Panther Chariot|
|Basileans|Bearer of the Holy Icon|
|Basileans|Men-at-Arms Crossbowmen|
|Basileans|Sisterhood Panther Chariot|
|Basileans|Sisterhood Panther Lancers|
|Basileans|Sisterhood Scouts|
|Basileans|Heavy Arbalest|
|Basileans|High Paladin|
|Basileans|Ogre Palace Guard Captain|
|Basileans|Paladin Chaplain|
|Basileans|Sisterhood Infantry|

– Brotherhood: OotGL 14 army lists in sample –
|Brotherhood: Order of the Green Lady|Avatar of the Green Lady|
|Brotherhood: Order of the Green Lady|Exemplar Adjutant|
|Brotherhood: Order of the Green Lady|Exemplar of the Brotherhood|
|Brotherhood: Order of the Green Lady|Naiad Stalker|
|Brotherhood: Order of the Green Lady|Greater Water Elemental|
|Brotherhood: Order of the Green Lady|Naiad Ensnarers|
|Brotherhood: Order of the Green Lady|Woodland Critters|

– Dwarfs: 23 army lists in sample (up from 9) –
|Dwarfs|Greater Earth Elemental|
|Dwarfs|Ironwatch Rifles|
|Dwarfs|Flame Belcher|
|Dwarfs|Ironwatch Crossbows|
|Dwarfs|Jarrun Bombard|

– Elves: 23 army lists in sample (up from 16) –
|Elves|Elven Prince|
|Elves|Noble War Chariot|
|Elves|Tree Herder|
|Elves|War Chariots|
|Elves|Shield Watch|
|Elves|Tydarion Dragonlord|
|Elves|Forest Guard|
|Elves|Hunters of the Wild|

– Empire of Dust: 20 army lists in sample (up from 10) –
|Empire of Dust|Revenant on Undead Great Burrowing Wyrm|
|Empire of Dust|Skeleton Archers|
|Empire of Dust|Skeleton Deadeye Crossbows|
|Empire of Dust|Reanimated Behemoth|
|Empire of Dust|Revenant Champion|
|Empire of Dust|Undead Army Standard Bearer|
|Empire of Dust|Empire of Dust Balefire Catapult|
|Empire of Dust|Revenant Chariots|
|Empire of Dust|Skeleton Archer Cavalry|

– Forces of Nature: 30 army lists in sample (up from 12) –
|Forces of Nature|Centaur Chief|
|Forces of Nature|Greater Fire Elemental|
|Forces of Nature|Naiad Stalker|
|Forces of Nature|Naiad Wyrmrider Centurion|
|Forces of Nature|Centaur Bray Hunters|
|Forces of Nature|Greater Water Elemental|
|Forces of Nature|Salamander Veteran|
|Forces of Nature|Scorchwings|
|Forces of Nature|Woodland Critters|
|Forces of Nature|Avatar of the Green Lady|
|Forces of Nature|Hydra|
|Forces of Nature|Forest Warden|
|Forces of Nature|Greater Air Elemental|
|Forces of Nature|Greater Earth Elemental|
|Forces of Nature|Naiad Ensnarers|
|Forces of Nature|Naiad Wyrmriders|

– Forces of the Abyss: 23 army lists in sample (up from 13) –
|Forces of the Abyss|Chroneas|
|Forces of the Abyss|Imps|
|Forces of the Abyss|Succubi Larvae|
|Forces of the Abyss|Abyssal Harbinger|
|Forces of the Abyss|Hellhounds|
|Forces of the Abyss|Hellequin-Blood-masque|

– Goblins: 35 army lists in sample (up from 17) –
|Goblins|Fleabag Rider Sniffs|
|Goblins|Fleabag Chariots|
|Goblins|Troll Bruiser|
|Goblins|Goblin Slasher|
|Goblins|Sharpstick Thrower|
|Goblins|King on chariot|

– Kingdoms of Men: 15 army lists in sample (up from 8) –
|Kingdoms of Men|Charioteers|
|Kingdoms of Men|Fanatic Instigator|
|Kingdoms of Men|General|
|Kingdoms of Men|Mounted Scouts|
|Kingdoms of Men|Shield Wall|
|Kingdoms of Men|Ballista|
|Kingdoms of Men|Mammoth|
|Kingdoms of Men|Mounted Sergeants|
|Kingdoms of Men|Assassin|
|Kingdoms of Men|Crossbow Block|
|Kingdoms of Men|Giant|
|Kingdoms of Men|Hero|

– League of Rhordia: 20 army lists in sample (up from 7) –
|League of Rhordia|Duke|
|League of Rhordia|Halfling Master Sergeant|
|League of Rhordia|Mammoth|
|League of Rhordia|Pole-Arms Block|

– Nightstalkers: 57 army lists in sample (up from 36) –
|Nightstalkers|Horror Riftweavers|
|Nightstalkers|Butcher Fleshripper|
|Nightstalkers|Reaper Souldrinker|
|Nightstalkers|Blood Worms|
|Nightstalkers|Portal of Despair|
|Nightstalkers|The Dream Hunter|

– Northern Alliance: 27 army lists in sample (up from 17) –
|Northern Alliance|Ice Kin Master Hunter|
|Northern Alliance|Elf Clansmen|
|Northern Alliance|Frost Giant|
|Northern Alliance|Human Clansmen|
|Northern Alliance|Ice Kin Bolt Thrower|
|Northern Alliance|Snow Troll Prime|
|Northern Alliance|Cavern Dweller|
|Northern Alliance|Skald|

– Ogres: 25 army lists in sample (up from 12) –
|Ogres|Boomer Chariots|
|Ogres|Red Goblin Scout Sniffs|
|Ogres|Red Goblins Spitters|
|Ogres|Red Goblin Slasher|
|Ogres|Red Goblin Biggit|
|Ogres|Red Goblin Sharpsticks|
|Ogres|Red Goblin Rabble|

– Orcs: 17 army lists in sample (up from 7) –
|Orcs|Skulk Marauder on Gore Chariot|
|Orcs|Skulk Raider Chariots|
|Orcs|Skulk Stalker|
|Orcs|Skulk Outriders|
|Orcs|Troll Bruiser|
|Orcs|Fight Wagons|
|Orcs|Krudger on Gore Chariot|

– Ratkin: 13 army lists in sample (up from 10) –
|Ratkin|Death Engine Impaler|
|Ratkin|Death Engine Spewer|
|Ratkin|Master Scurrier|
|Ratkin|War Chief|
|Ratkin|Spear Warriors|

– Salamanders: 28 army lists in sample (up from 15) –
|Salamanders|Ghekkotah Clutch Warden|
|Salamanders|Ghekkotah Hunters|
|Salamanders|Ghekkotah Slasher|
|Salamanders|Greater Fire Elemental|
|Salamanders|Fire Drake|
|Salamanders|Kaisenor Lancers|
|Salamanders|Salamander Unblooded|

– Sylvan Kin: 13 army lists in sample (up from 11) –
|Sylvan Kin|Avatar of the Green Lady|
|Sylvan Kin|Bolt Thrower|
|Sylvan Kin|El’Rik Nisleen|
|Sylvan Kin|Elven Prince|
|Sylvan Kin|The Windborne|
|Sylvan Kin|Archwraith|
|Sylvan Kin|Elven King|
|Sylvan Kin|Kindred Tallspears|
|Sylvan Kin|Master Hunter|
|Sylvan Kin|Riverguard Treeleapers|

– The Herd: 13 army lists in sample (up from 8) –
|The Herd|Centaur Chief|
|The Herd|Tribal Tracker|
|The Herd|Tribal Trappers|
|The Herd|Woodland Critters|
|The Herd|Centaur Bray Hunters|
|The Herd|Centaur Bray Striders|
|The Herd|Great Chieftan|
|The Herd|Great Chieftan on Minotaur Chariot|
|The Herd|Greater Earth Elemental|
|The Herd|Hunters of the Wild|
|The Herd|Minotaur Chariots|

– Trident Realm: 20 army lists in sample (up from 11) –
|Trident Realm|Coral Giant|
|Trident Realm|Naiad Centurion|
|Trident Realm|Naiad Stalker|
|Trident Realm|Greater Water Elemental|
|Trident Realm|Leviathan’s Bane|
|Trident Realm|Riverguard Dambuster Sentinel|
|Trident Realm|Riverguard Sentinel|
|Trident Realm|Riverguard|

– Twilight Kin: 9 army lists in sample (up from 6) –
(I’m keeping these despite having under 10 lists, since they were here in the last version already.)
|Twilight Kin|Bolt Thrower|
|Twilight Kin|Cronebound Banshee|
|Twilight Kin|Cronebound Needle-fangs|
|Twilight Kin|Dragon Breath|
|Twilight Kin|Mikayel, Lord of Nightmares|
|Twilight Kin|Therennian Sea Guard|
|Twilight Kin|Twilight Assassin|
|Twilight Kin|Cronebound Archfiend|
|Twilight Kin|Cronebound Shadowhounds|
|Twilight Kin|Elven Prince|
|Twilight Kin|Kindred Archers|
|Twilight Kin|Kindred Gladestalkers|

– Undead: 34 army lists in sample (up from 19) –
|Undead|Ghoul Ghast|
|Undead|Lady Ilona|
|Undead|Skeleton Archers|
|Undead|Zuinok Iceblood|
|Undead|Revenant on Undead Great Burrowing Wyrm|
|Undead|Cursed Pharaoh|

– Varangur: 21 army lists in sample (up from 13) –
|Varangur|Thegn on Frostfang|
|Varangur|Horse Raiders|
|Varangur|Frost Giant|
|Varangur|Magus Conclave|
|Varangur|Night Raiders|
|Varangur|Snow Troll Prime|

–added to due special request, keep in mind only 5 lists here –
– Ratkin Slaves: 5 army lists in sample –
|Ratkin Slaves|Immortal Guard|
|Ratkin Slaves|Iron-caster|
|Ratkin Slaves|Slave Death Engine Impaler
|Ratkin Slaves|Taskmaster on Chariot|
|Ratkin Slaves|Abyssal Berserkers|
|Ratkin Slaves|Blacksouls|
|Ratkin Slaves|Katsuchan Rocket Launcher|

Armies not included due to small sample sizes:
|Undead (with Jarvis)|
|Brotherhood: Order of the Brothermark|
|Free Dwarfs|

From your perspective, with the armies you are familiar with, does this list make sense?
Why are these units the least used?

Appendix: Events included

|Always Sunny|USA|
|Dawn of War|UK|
|Dragonfall GT|Universal Battle|
|Emerald Dragon GT|Universal Battle|
|Erit Bellum|UK|
|Last Chances 2020|UK|
|March of the Great Armies|UK|
|Pirates of the Mytalein|UK|
|Rage of Isolation 3|Universal Battle|
|Rage of Isolation 4|Universal Battle|
|Siege of Augusta|USA|
|Virtually Vanguard|Universal Battle|

and 2021:
Siege of Augusta|USA
Lonewolf GT|USA
Snake Eyes 30M |Spain
U.S. Masters 2021|USA


Most of it makes sense from a points efficiency standpoint. For AD I don’t know why dravek dalken and infernok aren’t used often. I field them all the time, definitely more efficient than the ordinary iron caster and greater obsidian.

For the others, I’ve run the over master on chariot a few times, he’ s always a useless work shy git. I can never get him to be as useful as he should.

All the other things on the AD list fall into the same category, should be good but fir their points are very so-so. I’m painting up a grotesque champion to try out as I think he could work well in the right list.

I also think there’s a good list to be had from an all berserker list backed up by hellfanes, but the time involved in building and painting it ( plus the actual cost ) is holding me back from trying it currently.


Poor Lady Ilona. Got a cool model for her, and then I try to build a list… and for 35 more points I could have a dragon.

The Great Burrowing Wyrm should just be a Monster.


Yeah, she has some nice spells and ability. However the damage output of the Dragon is more direct and a far better investment in points.

One thing I have noticed with 3rd edition, it favours melee brute force over finese.

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|Dwarfs|Berserkers| - Brocks are just better
|Dwarfs|Greater Earth Elemental| - Often used in many lists. Dwarf lists need CS and they are one of the only sources of CS3
|Dwarfs|Ironbelcher Organ Gun| - Elliot Morrish swears by his Organ Guns. I like them too.
|Dwarfs|Ironwatch Rifles| - Yes. They need something more than the warsmith buff that is nice but not great
|Dwarfs|Rordin the Dwarf| - dwarf kings need to fly or bring something new to the table!
|Dwarfs|Steel Behemoth| - almost always upgraded to Golloch’s Fury that’s why you don’t see the generic Steel Behemoth much
|Dwarfs|Warsmith|- I like him now but he needs a longer ranged gun. 18 inches should do it.

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Of course, it’s worth looking at the sampling to see if that affects usage. If we’re looking at tournaments ran in a similar location, you would likely see players re-using set lists with few tweaks meaning that the same units aren’t used consistently.


She has Enthrall (5), which is a bit low, but it is the only Enthrall in the Undead list. The three more spells at (3) just increase her cost for no benefit. Surge (3)? Who would use the 280 point vampire to cast Surge (3)??

She needs to be discounted for the array of useless abilities, like Morgoth is (tho his are better), not whatever the hell happened to her cost calculation.

Shooting seems to be an issue across the board - which is understandable.

Ra 5 going to 6’s for cover really impacts already underwhelming performance, and lack of any piercing just makes it a no go for many units.

I’d prefer to see Ra4 with a lower number of attacks to make shooting more viable while not allowing it to go overboard.

But i suspect the main issue is the availability of Defense 6 units and people skewing their lists with them.


(Kingdoms of Men notes)

I’m not surprised by a lot of these: Shieldwall is painfully underwhelming when compared to Polaearms or Spear Phalanx; Chariots, Mounted Scouts and Ballista generally falling foul of having poor shooting attacks; and the Fanatic Instigator not having “Inspiring: Fanatics Only” (why would this not be a feature of the unit?!?!?!).

I am quite surprised that the various bows, crossbows and handguns don’t feature on this list when my impression is that shooting isn’t so much of a big deal in 3rd edition. I’m also curious that Generals aren’t much used, I think they provide a good combination of inspiring and hitting power, although seeing as I’ve never ranked above the bottom 3 in a tournament, I might be wrong about that.

Thanks for posting this list: there’s a lot of food for thought.


Agreed. I’ll add that:
Brocks are also cheaper in money. The old metal beserkers cost about as much as plastic brock riders, but you need twice are many for a unit.

I like organ guns too. I think not being as good as last edition and so much other effective shooting means their role gets filled without needing the unlock.

I get the impression that ironwatch are in the list because they need to be. There are so many models of dwarfs holding crossbows or firearms (including from Mantic) that leaving them out us unwise, but Mantic have made their own take on Dwarfs with cooler things to take instead.
Ironwatch look fair to a little expensive, but being too cheap will result in spamming, so I would be cautious with thier points cost too.

The Dwarf Lord on foot could do with a more useful aura. Reroll headstrong sounds amazing on paper, but is a bit lacking in practice.

Golloch’s fury is an expensive upgrade on an already expensive unit, so I prefer the vanilla behemoth, but you are right.
I mostly take it 'cause the model is cool though.

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Also what is the point of indirect fire? It can’t shoot over units naturally, all it does is add a hindrance of being unable to attack units within 12".

Really hope 4th edition gives shooting a bit of love, the game needs to be balanced between all aspects, as it is now it is a melee game.


Indirect fire is a hindrance that is usually coupled with other rules to make up for it.
There was a move away from rules that include other rules and an attempt to separate effects in 3rd.

Shooting is fine, 3rd edition tried to reduce it on purpose.
Shooting was only so effective in ancient and medieval warfare (the kind KoW is presumably trying to recreate); so being a mostly “combat game” sounds about right.

Effective shooting is a good reason not to bother with risking close combat, that’s why swords gave way to firearms, I don’t think it is possible to balance them like you’re asking.

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I appreciate the list, as one of my fetishes in minigaming is to play with less-used / off-meta units / armies whenever possible. I wonder how this list would look if ‘least used’ was decreased below 20%, as there are IMO still a number of standout units present, but I suppose a) my opinion is pretty skewed (see opening!) and b) 1 in 5 lists is pretty rare, innit? Also interesting that it includes units within their own faction only, not allies. For example, [FON] heartpiercers are probably the most common ally I see right now, thanks to unlocking and the flying, inspiring, lightninging unicorn being hot, neutral sex, but within pure FON they don’t rate (which does track from my experience facing FON).

Fully understand the reason to have special rules not include other special rules. That being said having indirect ignore line of sight wouldn’t be adding a pre-existing special rule.

Your point about missile weapons in ancient and medieval warfare being only so effective, is incorrect, also it is a false equivalence. Ancient and medieval warfare didn’t have flying monsters, large infantry, monstrous cavalry, etc. Kings of War is a fantasy game which if anything borrows from the Hollywood depiction of ancient and medieval warfare not history.

Ranged attacks in 3rd edition, are weak, mostly hitting on 5+ base. Add in cover and if the unit moved, the units ability to do damage is greatly reduced. Couple that with the ludicrous staying power of Hordes (which the game favours), and those points used feel wasted. The disruption rule also means if a small fast unit is able to engage a unit as big as a horde and do a single point of damage, that ranged unit is not able to use its ranged attack when it next activates, even if it isn’t wavered. Melee units have no such thing that stops them from attacking (losing thunderous charge os not the same).

Artillery is the one exception, it feels about right now.

I’m not asking for ranged attacks to be so good that they dominate the game, but they really need to be looked at, when I see Elven armies with no archers, that is a sign that something somewhere has gone wrong.


One thing that could help ranged attacks and is historical, would be some sort of drive back rule.


Well, the Elves dont have any of their missile units as their “least used” units,
so their shooting appears to be present to some extent, although probably less so than before.

I see that twilight kin have some shooting units in the “least used” list, have they moved to melee heavy builds to an even larger extent than the Elves?

From my Salamander point of view,
most of the units in the “least used” list make sense for me. Some commentary below:

|Salamanders|Fire Drake| - Extremely expensive for having only decent melee and decent shooting, typical pricing issues that seem to arise for “jack of all trades” units. Interesting due to high maneuverablily (nimble), but when you could almost get another Tyrant unit or almost get 3 units of Lekelidon for that price, its hard to justify.

|Salamanders|Ghekkotah Clutch Warden| - Never seems relevant, very unclear role for me. If you run a very ghekkotah heayv army he is like a more expensive Herald who can shoot a little bit and be stealthy? But even then is only marginally interesting.

|Salamanders|Ghekkotah Hunters| ** - The got a buff in Halpis so they are marked with ** and are ignored

|Salamanders|Ghekkotah Skylord on Scorchwing| - This one is not bad in a vacuum, but more people might use the “big bad” Lord on Dragon as their high impact flyer instead, or the cheaper Battle Captain with Wings?

|Salamanders|Ghekkotah Slasher| - Oh man. Cool unit, want it to be good. But at that price, and with so jack-of-all-trades stats, (see Fire Drake problems), its just hard to justify. Wish it paid less for the shooting, or just lost the shooting entirely and gave the role of “tall shooter” to the Komodon.

|Salamanders|Herald| - not bad in a vacuum, but according to Nick’s first analysis post, a lot of were gravitating toward using the Inspiring item on other kinds of heroes instead of going for pure “flag bearer” types.
So that might be one factor. Also, those who use a lot of Flamebound get free inspiring from the Mage-Priest, and many units also get inspired from being close to the Ancients unit. So there might be so much inspiring going around that heralds arent used that much.

|Salamanders|Komodon| - This guy was priced down a bit, but then lost his entire reason for being interesting in my book, his high Height stat that allowed him to shoot freely over infantry while holding an objective token.
Now with H3, he needs to either stand alongside the army which Lekelidon / Ember sprites already do great, or he needs to stand alone in the back behind your lines to hold the objective where you could just have plopped down a cheap troop of ghekkotah warriors instead.


Ranged chariots, they’ve got these wrong.

I agree that melee and shooting are difficult to balance, and would much prefer it to tip towards melee - otherwise you end up playing a sort of fantasy 40K.

But ranged chariots are just off. I think most forum users would have said that on their first run through the book. Compared to light+heavy cav, they need some adjustment.

Or at least a heavy/melee alternative.

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Genuinely surprised by this one!?

I suspect that in some cases the options are deliberately bad. Lists like The Herd are designed IMO to move people across to Mantic minis & main army lists. This can be looked at positively - they’ve given us the option to field certain units. But it means that they’re unlikely to be improved/fixed.

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KoW still has cavalry that charges and infantry holding lines. It’s got more in common with medieval warfare than you give it credit for.
It’s obviously not a hugely accurate simulation but it’s similar enough that being able to damage the enemy at a distance (i.e. in a way that avoids being attacked in return) is more attractive than sticking your neck out to have swing.
As with actual warfare, if you can get it done at a distance then going over there isn’t worthwhile.

We had the shooting you want in 2nd and it cause negative play experiences.