The Naiad Ensnarers can be found among the Nertican and Forces of Nature lists, they are one of the more unique basic units in Kings of War. So before we go into it any further lets take a look at this units profile and abilities.
Note: Average is not bad.
With a Speed of 5 this puts the unit at the average speed. While you can outrun the Dwarfs and Halflings (and a few more) many armies will have a speed of 6 putting you at high risk of taking a charge. When you only have a defense of 3+ this is dangerous and steps must be taken to lessen the impact of enemy charges.
Melee of 4 is again, very average.
Defense 3 is the Naiads biggest downfall. Yes it has Ensnare and Regeneration but any hit that gets through will be very likely to wound. Against armies with the vicious special rule this unit will suffer even more. Later on we can talk about how to lessen this problem.
Attack progression is normal for a non phalanx unit and isn't much to talk about here. On par with most basic infantry.
Again Nerve is average, not the 21/23 of others but also not the 19/21 of the lesser willed.
The Points cost of the unit is pretty high for a unit of it's type and it is clear it's price is inflated by it's special abilities. While it's profile is below average it's abilities are far better than average. So really to decide how effective this unit is we have to look at it's abilities and if it's worth the price you end up paying.
So looking at the basic profile we have a below average infantry unit, average in every way except it's low defense. So why the high points cost? Again it's abilities. So lets look at those.
Ensnare is the obvious ability here and is a powerful one. Ensnare "grants" a -1 to the enemies melee value when being attacked from it's front arc. For most basic troops this means hitting you on 5's which can be the difference between life and death, especially when this unit has a defense of 3+ and they need to prevent as many hits coming through as possible.
Pathfinder is ALWAYS good to have. If your tables are set up properly you can speedily navigate through much of the difficult terrain (just avoid obstacles!). A smart commander can combine this with Ensnare and cause a whopping -2 to hit from enemy attacks. When you can make the best of these 2 rules this unit begins to punch above it's points cost.
Regeneration of 4+ is very good. Most units have a regeneration of 5 or 6 but to have a 4+ is simply amazing. However to use this ability you need to survive the enemies attacks. You effectively have heal to the value of the number of wounds on this unit. To see how good this is simply look at how much the heal spell costs to buy on your mages.
After seeing it's slightly less than average profile these abilities really start making this unit shine. But do these abilities justify the price? Possibly, there are ways to inflate this units profile and minimize it's flaws.
How does a commander make the best of this unit? Well on paper this is simple. Get them into a forest (or jungle or whatever terrain you have) and provide them with inspiring. This unit shines when all of it's abilities are being used together. Being in terrain does not hinder your Naiads however removes TC from the enemy and gives them a -1 to hit, then combined with -1 from ensnare means the enemy will likely do negligible damage, have inspiring nearby to ensure they don't die to a freak nerve roll and then next turn regenerate a lot of damage. There is nothing better than units who simply waste the enemies time.
So defensively in the right position this is a great anvil unit. But they lack much in the way of offensive power. Having something that can hit hard nearby will make any attackers wanting to take the Naiads ground have a bad day. As usual with KOW for a unit to truly shine you need to combined arms approach.
The bane of this unit is shooting. With defense 3 it would be very easy for the enemy to put wounds on you at range. In my opinion this rules out the use of Naiad troops and to an extent Regiments. You really need this unit to stick around (you certainly paid enough points to warrant this) and a horde gives it a fair chance to regen it up and carry on it's job.
Ultimately this unit is not always going to be good, it's either going to be a little bit of a let down or make even the most elite units cry. You have to be very smart about how you use these because they are too fragile to simply use as an anvil out in the open. They also need support to start doing the damage against enemy units or they will slowly be worn down and lost. Remember these guys are there to waste the enemies points not your own.
A horde of these paired with a troop of high damage output units will fair well. For Nerticans this could be the Thuul who can put out the hurt with it's 20 attacks or for the Force of Nature the Hunters of the Wild would be exceptional. Hunters of the wild also have Pathfinder so this combo can work very well and even greater if you can fit a bane chant in there!
Remember these guys are the anvil, they need a hammer. Try find a hammer with pathfinder to make the best of them.
VerdictWith the Naiad Ensnarers you have to go all out or nothing. It requires planning and work in both deployment and list building to squeeze the most out of this unit so be sure to plan around them.
Overall I would rate this unit as potentially Excellent when used right but below average when used wastefully.
This unit does wonders in it's optimum environment but everywhere else it is below average for it's cost. So before using these look at your tables and decide if Naiads will have a fair chance at doing their job.
So this is unit review number 1 up. Let me know if I missed anything and if you want another unit looked at I can do so.