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In campaign, there is no reason to take unshielded variants of units because they lack a shield and typically have lower MD. I think it would be more interesting if unshielded variants had better offensive stats. Both for singleplayer as well as multiplayer it would make the decision between taking unshielded or shielded variants more tactical and interesting.
Unshielded variants having better offensive stats makes sense when you think about, let's take empire spears as an example, entities in the unshielded variant would have two hands to operate the spear and would not be encumbered by a shield. Giving them better MA, WS, CB is entirely understandable. While shielded variants would obviously have a shield as well as better MD.
Now this is already the case for some units. Take Gor Herds for instance, the unshielded variants has better offensive stats. What do you say, should every variant get the Gor Herd treatment?