Why elven shooters are great and men aren’t.


In early 2018 I posted below article on the Mantic forums. The post caused a lot of discussion as not everyone agreed with me.  As I still stand with my analysis, I thought to preserve this article as the forum goes down.

Why this post?

Kings of War has made quite a lot of progress from version 1 and the early days of version 2 to the Clash of Kings 2018 we play these days. One of the things we see is that the value of normal shooting has diminished quite a bit since the Kings of War 2 beta. I remember that late in the beta the number of attacks that shooting regiments was dropped from 12 to 10 as the RC didn’t want to facilitate gun lines (good call, IMHO) and shooting was perceived to be “too good” at that point of time.

Nowadays, very few people use regular shooting except for those few units which are quite a bit better than their counterparts. Examples are the elven/twilight kin archer hordes (usually with piercing), ogre shooters and volley guns which are all significantly better than average. (2019 edit: and those archers which are quite a bit cheaper than average i.e. goblins and halflings; as these are great unlockers. These were nerfed to irregular)

As a predominant human player (former Empire in that other game) I’d like to explain why no kingdoms of men (or league of Rhordia or brotherhood, as their units share characteristics) will ever use their own archers if better options are available as allies.

This post is not meant to be critical to the RC or anyone who helps buildings this game. As explained before, I completely understand why these choices were made in the KoW2 beta. Furthermore, it’s inherrently better to have a game in which shooting is undervalued over a game which turns every match into a shooting gallery. The goal of this post is solely to explain the current situation and provide insight for when KoW3 is going to be designed.

Below I compare the best human shooters (arquebusiers) with archers from the elf list because these two compare well. I also could have chosen ogre shooters or enslaved guardians as comparison, but I had some difficulty in getting values of the range difference in my comparrison.

First of all: Elven archers are 150 points and therefore 10% more expensive than the arquebusiers of 135 points. In addition to their combat statistics, the elves have +1 nerve and speed over the arquebussiers while the arquebussiers benefit from the KoM’s/League’s “very inspiring” which has also been included in their post costs.All-in, we can safely assume that elves should be a little (say 2%-5%) more effective than the arquebussiers due to their increased point cost.

In KoW1 (and that other game) terrain was not really an issue. Therefore, shooters were most likely “pointed” in a straight out shooting match. The game since than has evolved, as terrain has been a KoW staple since then.

Scenario analysis

To see what’s happened since the KoW2 beta, I’d like to explore three scenarios instead of only the straight out shooting match to compare the two.

  • Open fire lane to target (straight out shooting match)
  • Target in cover
  • Target out of fire arc/range


All comparisons measure the damage in 100 shots (or % per shot). i.e. 100 shots from elven archers will hit 58% (4+ and elite) on an unobstructed target, so that’s 58 hits. Against def 3; this equals 39 wounds. (4/6*58)

All calculations are shown at the bottom of this post.

Scenario a) open lane of fire

Elven archers will do 39 damage versus def 3 and 19 versus def 5.
arquebusiers will do 27 damage versus def 3 and 22 versus def 5.
Conclusion: Archers are more effective versus def 3; arquebusiers marginally better versus def 5.

Scenario b) Target in cover (or individual; or stealth; resulting in -1 to hit)

Elven archers will do 26 damage versus def 3 and 13 versus def 5.
arquebusiers will do 14 damage versus def 3 and 11 versus def 5.
Conclusion: Archers are almost twice as effective versus def 3 and marginally more effective against def 5.

Scenario c) Target out of fire arc or range. Move! Order required to be able to shoot.
Elven archers will do 26 damage versus def 3 and 13 versus def 5.
arquebusiers will not do any damage due to Reload!
Conclusion: Archers do damage; arquebusiers don’t

What do these results mean?

Every battle is different and there are more scenarios available than the three mentioned above. In my battles, I see these three scenarios come up more often than the others. For the sake of my argument I value them all at 1/3rd. This is of course an abstraction, but it’ll have to serve.

On average the elven archers will do 30 damage to def 3 and 15 to def 5
The arquebusiers average 14 damage to def 3 and 11 to def 5

When I average these numbers and divide by the point costs, I get the following numbers:

The elven archers will do 0.15 damage (in 100 shots) per point spent; while the arquebusiers do 0.09 (per 100 shots) damage per point spent.

This illustrates why elven archers are a much better choice (even as allies) than human shooters with Reload!

I guess that Reload! wasn’t discounted enough in the KoW2 base rule set as was the difference between 5+ shooting and 4+. (5+ means that cover/individual/stealth halves damage output, while 4+ only diminishes it by one third). Also the combination of Elite + 4+ shooting proves a significant increase, so elves get two racial buffs to shooting over humans, which have quite a lot of synergy.

Comparison of elven archers and their human counterparts

For the sake of completeness, I also ran the calculations on human archers versus elven archers. While the human archers do better than the arquebussiers (0.11 damage in 100 shots per point spent instead of 0.09) due to lower point costs and no Reload!; they are still vastly inferior to elves.

I’ve had some comments that elves should be better at shooting than men and this does reflect that. While I do agree that elves should be better as they are more expensive, but I do not agree that elves should be better point-for-point.

What would I want:

In KoW3 to have a better balance between elite (Elven) shooters and non-elite (i.e. humans, but the same goes for ork skulks and dwarven crossbowmen) shooters.

In Clash19, I’d really hope to see some kind of buff to human/dwarven shooters. Even the removal of Reload! to crossbowmen and arquebussiers would help. (edit 2019: This was sadly not the case. Maybe next year)

The calculations


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