Undead: Skeleton Horde vs. Zombie Legion

I want to compare the Skeleton Spearmen Horde to the Zombie Legion.

I’m getting my info from the big red book, which I think is 3.5 Ed? I don’t know how to tell.


The two units are pretty well nearly the same points cost. Both are big tarpit units, so they do the same job. For only 5 points more, the Skeleton Spearmen Horde, as an upgrade from the Zombie Legion grants noticeably more survivability in a smaller footprint.

It, statistically, takes 33.6 normal hits to Devastate the Zombie Legion, whereas it takes 44.0 normal hits to Devastate the Skeleton Spearmen Horde. Plus the Spearmen get a situational bonus to survivability with the Phalanx special rule.

And just for completeness, I’ll add that the two units have the same damage output, speed, and Unit Strength and all that.

counter points

I suppose if you can guarantee that the unit only gets hit by attacks with Crush/Pierce 2 or whatever, then you can save 5 points and stick with Zombies.

Maybe a deeper footprint has some advantages, like support heroes being able to be an inch and a half farther back from the front line or somthing.

That’s about all I can think of.

Is there something I’m missing? Or are Skeleton Spearmen Hordes always better than Zombie Legions?


That’s an interesting point! Ditto skeleton warriors for even cheaper too.

The reason that zombies are generally considered the “competitive choice” over skeletons considers the zombie horde against the skeleton horde.
The zombie horde is significantly cheaper, but still fills the role of being the a tar-pit that unlocks reasonably well.
Zombies are the budget option for a role filled by a unit that is ideally cheap.
Some players argue that CS 2 is so common that the De2+ vs De4+ doesn’t really matter, but I am unconvinced (I am a mediocre player who hasn’t actually brought my undead to a game though).

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Heya, the zombie legion isn’t worth it. The skeleton horde, however, is a tad more survivable than the zombie horde for a slightly higher point total.

In (semi-) competetive play, the difference between def 4+ and def 2+ starts to matter more these days, due to the presence of 4+ steady aim shooting which has either piercing (1) or none at all. Being able to surge a skellie horde into a unit of heartpiercers from way long away is very satisfying.


I’m a big proponent of De 4+ because of the uptick in P(0) shooting, and I find phalanx more and more useful as cav hammers have returned to the game (at least in the US). I also just really love the look of a block of skellies with spears, as opposed to yet another blob of zombies doing nothing but existing for a limited amount of time.


Unless your meta is cavalry or massed non-piercing shooting, think zombies (reg/horde rather than legion), will always trump skeleton units.

They are just in than middle ground between zombies and revenants - former do the unlock/nerve cheaper, the later do the fighting better.

If going skeletons you need to take Zuinok. Shame that there isn’t a comparable aura option for skeletons from the revenant king or liche to that for zombies from the necromancer

That’s funny. Here in the Netherlands, we do have a tsunami of 4+/steady aim shooting (Gladestalkers, heartpiercers, corsairs), but the removal of Macwar’s potion eliminated almost all cavalry from the scene. That, and the fact that disruption (scorched earth, Kerris) is much more common these days than it’s been before.

Goblins use the formation, elves have that super-powered cavalry unit and ogres use chariots. That’s about the amount of cavalry I see these days.

Funny how metas can change from region to region.


thanks for all the responses!

Okay so Zombie Legions really are out of being competitive.

I have my army to be themed around overwhelming my opponent with gnarly tarpits/anvils. I do intend to centre it around 2 Zombie Legions. Perhaps when I get more competitive I’ll make lists with 2-3 Zombie Hordes then.

But for less competitive lists, I can keep the legions and experiment with the formation or the aura necro or whatever. I do know that I need more hammer units in my army, though.


Lots of Order of the Green Lady on the rise here, plus the various pathfinder cav in other lists. I know 3+ members of my club are hot to mess with centaur spam. I also wonder if Ambush has driven our cav presence, as cav regs are the premiere hammer in that level of Kings and we had a couple Ambush tournaments when it was released.

EDIT: The amount of flyers is also rising precipitously around me, thanks to rules tweaks (Scorchwings and Air Elementals and Phoenixes, oh my! But also Helstrikers thanks to the Vault) and how Kings seems to trend as an edition’s meta churns along. And phalanx works a treat on them too, tho obviously a flyer plowing into your front is probably a flyer doing it wrong.


That’s the crux of the matter, isn’t it?

With the amount of terrain on the tables these days, cavalry is severely limited, unless it’s got pathfinder. (This is from the guy who took a cavalry army to Clash of Kings) Previously, the potion of the caterpillar gave one unit this benefit. The idea in this edition was to reduce cavalry in cost to counter this disadvantage, but it seems it hasn’t caught on.

I’m not sure whether this is due to conditioning (No cavalry unless it’s got pathfinder) or that the horsies are truely bad. Time will tell.

About flyers, it seems that everyone and their mother has the air elementals and/or scorchwings in their army. They are good, but have their limitations. Defense 4+, for instance. Shambling (for air elementals) is more of a disadvantage than you;d think.

I mean, I continue to see plenty of elite cav on the table too (i.e. the ones with crushing strength, more attaks, defensive tech, higher NV, etc.) which was true before caterpillar was removed. Honestly the removal of caterpillar hasn’t done much to the number of cav units in the meta around me, if anything it’s made it go up as non-cavalry-playing people looked to armies with baked-in pathfinder cav, while armies with 1-2 elite cav regs thunder on with strider boots on one, maybe helm of TC on the other, and so on.

But your basic non-crushing and/or non-pathfinder knight reg is definitely a rarity around me too. Maybe you see them as mobile unit strength or combo-chargers in support of faster flying elements, like in Brotherhood or KOM.

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