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This page describes the LuaWML functions for handling units.

A unit is a proxy table with the following fields:

  • x, y: integers (read only, read/write if the unit is not on the map. (Version 1.13.11 and later only) These are now read/write under all circumstances, including for on-map units)
  • loc: (Version 1.13.11 and later only) shortcut to get/set both x and y at once (read/write). Setting x and y individually would result in two moves, and there's the possibility that the intermediate move fails if the hex is occupied by another unit. In general, note that moving a unit by changing the proxy unit's coordinates does not work if the goal hex is occupied (it is not executed), so it is necessary to check if the hex is available first.
  • side: integer (read/write)
  • id: string (read only)
  • type: string (read only)
  • name: translatable string (read only)
  • cost (Version 1.13.10 and later only): integer (read)
  • max_hitpoints, max_experience, max_moves: integers (read only)
  • max_attacks: integer (read only)
  • attacks_left: integer (read/write) Setting below 0 is limited to 0.
  • extra_recruit: table (read/write)
  • advances_to: table (read/write)
  • hitpoints, experience: integer (read/write)
  • moves: integer (read/write)
  • level: (Version 1.13.5 and later only) integer (read/write)
  • resting: boolean (read/write)
  • hidden: boolean (read/write)
  • petrified, canrecruit: booleans (read only)
  • role, facing: strings (read/write)
  • status: proxy associative table (read only, read/write fields), provides fields like poisoned, slowed, petrified, uncovered, guardian, unhealable, invulnerable
  • image_mods: string (read only)
  • upkeep (Version 1.13.5 and later only): one of 'loyal', 'full' or a number (read/writre)
  • variables: proxy associative table (read only, read/write fields, including variables.__cfg), only toplevel named fields are proxied. (Version 1.13.2 and later only) subcontainers can be accessed by using the usual variable syntax: unit.variables["a.b.c[6].d"]
  • attacks: (Version 1.13.0 and later only)an object to access the units attacks, you can use the attacks index or the attacks name to index an attack. every attack has the following members:
    • description: translatable string (read/write)
    • name: string (read)
    • type: string (read/write)
    • range: string (read/write)
    • damage: number(read/write)
    • number: number(read/write)
    • movement_used: number(read/write)
    • attack_weight: number(read/write)
    • defense_weight: number(read/write)
    • specials wml table(read/write)
  • valid: string or nil (read only)
  • advancements: (Version 1.13.2 and later only) an array of wml tables (read/write)
  • __cfg: WML table (dump) (SingleUnitWML)
  • (Version 1.13.2 and later only) The following fields are unit methods synonymous to one of the functions described on this page:

The metatable of these proxy tables appears as "unit".

A unit can be either visible on the map (#wesnoth.get_units, #wesnoth.put_unit), or on a recall list (#wesnoth.get_recall_units, #wesnoth.put_recall_unit), or private to the Lua code (#wesnoth.create_unit, #wesnoth.copy_unit, #wesnoth.extract_unit). The Lua code has complete control over the private units; they will not be modified unless accessed through the proxy unit. Units on the map and on the recall lists, however, can be modified by the user, the engine, WML, independently of the Lua code. In particular, if a unit is killed, any further use of the proxy unit will cause an error. For units on the map, the proxy unit is valid as long as there is a unit on the map that has the same "underlying_id" WML field as the original one. The behavior is similar for units on the recall lists. The valid field reflects the unit availability by returning "map", "recall", "private", or nil. The latter value is used for units that were removed (e.g. killed). In that case, the valid field is the only one that can be read without causing an error.

The term "proxy", here in particular "proxy unit", means that the variable retrieved in the lua code (with get_units for example) is an accessor (reference) to the C++ object which represents that unit. This is very different from unit variables obtained by [store_unit] in wml. The fields marked as "writable" above can be modified without the need to use put_unit afterwards. This same reason explains that modifications to the unit from outside the lua code (like [kill] invalidating the proxy unit) have immediate effect on the lua code's proxy unit variable (with the exception of private proxy units).


Returns an array of all the units on the map matching the WML filter passed as the first argument. See StandardUnitFilter for details about filters. If a second unit is passed, it can be referenced via the $other_unit variable in the main filter as well as via the "other" variable in WFL formulas used in the main filter. If a location is passed, the filter is run as if the unit were at that location (rather than its real location). This affects things such as [filter_adjacent] and ability_active, and should work even for a unit on the recall list.

local leaders_on_side_two = wesnoth.get_units { side = 2, canrecruit = true }
local name_of_leader = leaders_on_side_two[1].name


  • wesnoth.get_unit(x, y)
  • wesnoth.get_unit(id)

Returns the unit at the given location or with the given ID.

local args = ...
local unit = wesnoth.get_unit(args.x1, args.y1)


Returns true if the given unit matches the WML filter passed as the second argument. If other_unit is specified, it is used for the $other_unit auto-stored variable in the filter. Otherwise, this variable is not stored for the filter. If an extra location is specified, the filter matches as if the unit were at that location.

assert(unit.canrecruit == wesnoth.match_unit(unit, { canrecruit = true }))


Places a unit on the map. This unit is described either by a WML table or by a proxy unit. Coordinates can be passed as the first two arguments, otherwise the table is expected to have two fields x and y, which indicate where the unit will be placed. If the function is called with coordinates only, the unit on the map at the given coordinates is removed instead. (Version 1.13.2 and later only) This use is now deprecated; use wesnoth.erase_unit instead.

-- create a unit with random traits, then erase it
wesnoth.put_unit(17, 42, { type = "Elvish Lady" })
wesnoth.put_unit(17, 42)

When the argument is a proxy unit, no duplicate is created. In particular, if the unit was private or on a recall list, it no longer is; and if the unit was on the map, it has been moved to the new location. Note: passing a WML table is just a shortcut for calling #wesnoth.create_unit and then putting the resulting unit on the map.

-- move the leader back to the top-left corner
wesnoth.put_unit(1, 1, wesnoth.get_units({ canrecruit = true })[1])

If x,y is a village, this function does not capture it (as of 1.14). Use wesnoth.set_village_owner(x, y, unit.side) if that's what you want.

Caution: Using this function will trigger unit placed events. While this may be correct in most cases, there are some cases where it shouldn't, especially if the code is inside the definition of a custom WML tag — it would be an unexpected side-effect from the users point. To work around this, false can be passed additionally as the last argument. This is what is used internally for some tags such as [move_unit], [harm_unit], [unpetrify] or the feeding ability and is not officially part of the API.


(Version 1.13.2 and later only)

  • wesnoth.erase_unit(unit)
  • wesnoth.erase_unit(x, y)
  • unit:erase()

Erases a unit from the map. After calling this on a unit, the unit is no longer valid.


  • wesnoth.get_recall_units()

Returns an array of all the units on the recall lists matching the WML filter passed as the first argument.


Places a unit on a recall list. This unit is described either by a WML table or by a proxy unit. The side of the recall list is given by the second argument, or by the side of the unit if missing.

-- put the unit at location 17,42 on the recall list for side 2
wesnoth.put_recall_unit(wesnoth.get_units({ x= 17, y = 42 })[1], 2)

When the argument is a proxy unit, no duplicate is created. In particular, if the unit was private or on the map, it no longer is. Note: passing a WML table is just a shortcut for calling #wesnoth.create_unit and then putting the resulting unit on a recall list.


  • wesnoth.create_unit(unit_info)

Creates a private unit from a WML table.

local u = wesnoth.create_unit { type = "White Mage", gender = "female" }


Creates a private unit from another unit.

-- extract a unit from the map
local u = wesnoth.copy_unit(wesnoth.get_units({ type = "Thug" })[1])
wesnoth.erase_unit(u.x, u.y)
-- u is still valid at this point


Removes a unit from the map or from a recall list and makes it private.

-- remove all the units from the recall list of side 1 and put them in a WML container
local l = {}
for i,u in ipairs(wesnoth.get_recall_units { side = 1 }) do
    table.insert(l, u.__cfg)
helper.set_variable_array("player_recall_list", l)

Note: if the unit is on the map, it is just a shortcut for calling #wesnoth.copy_unit and then #wesnoth.put_unit without a unit. It is, however, the only way for removing a unit from a recall list without putting it on the map.


(Version 1.13.0 and later only) Advances the unit (and shows the advance unit dialog if needed) if the unit has enough xp. This function should be called after modifying the units experience directly. A similar function is called by wesnoth internally after unit combat. The second argument is a boodean value that specifies whether the advancement should be animated. The third agrument is a boodean value that specifies whether advancement related events should be fired.

This function only works for units on the map.

This function can also trigger multiple advancements if the unit has enough xp.


  • wesnoth.add_modification(unit, type, effects, [write_to_mods])
  • (Version 1.13.2 and later only) unit:add_modification(type, effects, [write_to_mods])

Modifies a given unit. It needs to be a proxy unit. The second argument is the type of the modification (one of "trait", "object", or "advance"). The option "advance" applies effects as if the unit would advance (e.g. AMLA effects). The third argument is a WML table describing the effect, so mostly containing [effect] children. See EffectWML for details about effects.

(Version 1.13.2 and later only) In 1.13.2 and later, the "advance" type is replaced with "advancement", to match the equivalent tag in [unit_type]. Also, it takes a fourth argument which, if false, causes it to not write the modification tag to the unit's [modifications] (as would be done with an [object] with no_write=true).

local T = wml.tag
local u = wesnoth.get_units { canrecruit = true }[1]
local effects = {
  id = "my_effect_id",
  T.effect { 
    apply_to = "image_mod", 
    replace = "RC(red>blue)" 
  T.effect {
    apply_to = "new_animation",
    T.standing_animation {
      -- AnimationWML
wesnoth.add_modification(u, "object", effects)


Modifies a given unit. The unit needs to be a proxy unit. The second argument is a filter for the modifications to remove. It takes the same syntax as [filter_wml]; all matching modifications will be removed. The third argument is the type (tag name) of the modifications to search for; it defaults to "object", but you can also pass "trait" or "advancement".

local u = wesnoth.get_units { canrecruit = true }[1]
wesnoth.remove_modifications(u, { id = "my_effect_id" })


Returns the resistance of a unit against an attack type. (Note: it is a WML resistance. So the higher it is, the weaker the unit is.) The third argument indicates whether the unit is the attacker. Last arguments are the coordinates of an optional map location (for the purpose of taking abilities into account).

local fire_resistance = 100 - wesnoth.unit_resistance(u, "fire")


Returns the defense of a unit on a particular terrain. (Note: it is a WML defense. So the higher it is, the weaker the unit is.)

local flat_defense = 100 - wesnoth.unit_defense(u, "Gt")


Returns the movement cost of a unit on a particular terrain.

local move_cost = wesnoth.unit_movement_cost(u, "Gt")


Returns the vision cost of a unit on a particular terrain.

local see_cost = wesnoth.unit_vision_cost(u, "Gt")


Returns the jamming cost of a unit on a particular terrain.

local jam_cost = wesnoth.unit_jamming_cost(u, "Gt")


Returns true if the unit is currently under effect by an ability with this given TAG NAME. This means that the ability could be owned by the unit itself, or by an adjacent unit.

function has_teleport(u)
    return wesnoth.unit_ability(u, "teleport")


This is not a function but a read-only table indexed by unit type ids. Its elements are proxy tables with these fields:

  • id: string
  • name: translatable string (read only)
  • max_moves, max_experience, max_hitpoints, level, cost: integers (read only)
  • abilities: array of ability keys (strings), e.g. {"curing", "regenerates"}
  • (Version 1.13.11 and later only) advances_to: array of unit types to which unit can advance
  • (Version 1.13.11 and later only) advances_from: array of unit types from which unit can advance. Note: this is OOS-unsafe in Multiplayer games. Different clients may have additional Era-s with units upgradable to this unit type.
  • __cfg: WML table (dump), see UnitTypeWML

The metatable of these proxy tables appears as "unit type".

local lich_cost = wesnoth.unit_types["Ancient Lich"].cost

Note that different clients have different set of available units in a Multiplayer game. It is OOS-unsafe to e.g. count the number of units. Presuming correctly written add-ons, it is still safe to e.g. access any given unit or its properties.


This is not a function but a table indexed by race ids. Its elements are proxy tables for all races the engine knows about. known fields of each element:

  • id: string
  • description, name, plural_name (translatable strings)
  • num_traits (integer)
  • ignore_global_traits (boolean)
  • undead_variation (string)

(all read only)

  • __cfg: WML table (dump)


  • wesnoth.get_traits()

Returns a table with named fields (trait id strings) holding the wml tables defining the traits. arguments: none. All global traits the engine knows about, race-specific traits are not included. Known fields and subtags of each element are the ones which were given in the wml definition of the trait.



  • wesnoth.simulate_combat(attacker, [attacker_weapon_index], defender, [defender_weapon_index])

Computes the hitpoint distribution and status chance after a combat between two units. The first unit is the attacker; it does not have to be on the map, though its location should be meaningful. The second unit is the defender; it has to be on the map.

Optional integers can be passed after each unit to select a particular weapon, otherwise the "best" one is selected. When giving the weapon, the parameter is the weapon number (integer, starting at 1) and not an element from the table returned by helper.child_range(att, "attack").

local function display_stats(n, t)
        "Chance for the %s\n  to be slowed: %f,\n  to be poisoned: %f,\n  to die: %f.\nAverage HP: %f.",
        n, t.slowed, t.poisoned, t.hp_chance[0], t.average_hp))
local att_stats, def_stats = wesnoth.simulate_combat(att, att_weapon, def, def_weapon)
display_stats("attacker", att_stats)
display_stats("defender", def_stats)

Returns 2 additional tables which contain information about the weapons and the effect of single hits with these keys: num_blows, damage, chance_to_hit, poisons, slows, petrifies, plagues, plague_type, backstabs, rounds, firststrike, drains, drain_constant, drain_percent, attack_num, name. Name is the wml name not the description. If there is no weapon, then name will be nil

local att_stats, def_stats, att_weapon, def_weapon = wesnoth.simulate_combat(attacker, att_weapon_number, defender)
    "The attack %s should be countered with %s, which does %d damage, has %d%% chance to hit and forces %d attack rounds due to its berserk ability.",, or "no weapon", def_weapon.damage, def_weapon.chance_to_hit, def_weapon.rounds))


Changes the type of a unit and adjust attributes accordingly. Note that hit points are only changed if necessary to accommodate the new maximum hit points. Poison is automatically removed if the transformed unit is immune.

local ev = wesnoth.current.event_context
local u = wesnoth.get_units{x=ev.x1, y=ev.y1}[1]
wesnoth.transform_unit(u, "Spearman")
-- If a full heal is desired:
u.hitpoints = u.max_hitpoints
u.status.poisoned = false


adds the unit type with the given id to the list of known units (so that they appear in the help)


(Version 1.13.7 and later only)

  • wesnoth.create_animator()

Returns an object that can be used to set up and run an animation. The object has three methods:

  • animator:run()

Runs the animation. (Version 1.15.0 and later only) Implicitly clears the animator.

  • animator:clear()

Clears any units previously added to the animation.

  • animator:add(unit, flag, hits, params)

Adds a unit to the animation. The flag specifies which animation to play, and the hits parameter is required for attack animations to specify which variant of the animation to play. Possibly keys in params are:

  • facing: A location. The animation will be played with the unit facing that location.
  • value: Either a number or a list of two numbers. Use this to pass value and/or value_second to default animations that use them.
  • with_bars: Whether to show HP bars and such while the animation plays.
  • text: Text to float as the animation plays.
  • color: Color of the floating text - a list of red, green, blue.
  • primary: The primary weapon to use for the animation. Must be a Lua unit attack proxy.
  • secondary: The secondary weapon to use for the animation.

Normal usage would be to create it, call add one or more times, then call run.


(Version 1.13.2 and later only)

This table contains the implementation of custom [effect]s. Each value is a function that takes a unit and the effect config. Note that the default effects defined by the Wesnoth engine are not in this table.

function wesnoth.effects.min_resistance(u, cfg)
	local resistance_new = {}
	local resistance_old = helper.parsed(helper.get_child(cfg, "resistance"))
	for k,v in pairs(resistance_old) do
		if type(k) == "string" and type(v) == "number" and wesnoth.unit_resistance(u, k) >= v then
			resistance_new[k] = v
	--important: use wesnoth.add_modification(..., false) so that the function will only execute the effects of that object and not store the object in the unit.
	wesnoth.add_modification(u, "object", {
		T.effect {
			apply_to = "resistance",
			replace = true,
			T.resistance (resistance_new),
	}, false)

The code above adds a new min_resistance effect that will set the resistances to specific values if they are currently below that value. It can then be used like this (for example, in [object]):


Note that in order work properly effects must be registered before any units are created. This means it must be places into toplevel or scenario/era/modification level [lua] tag and in particular must not be done from within a preload event.

(Version 1.13.5 and later only)

Built-in effects are now present in the wesnoth.effects table and can be called by custom effects or by other Lua code. They take the same two arguments that a custom effect function does - the unit, and the effect WML.

In addition, you can now specify description modifiers to be used if a custom effect is placed in a [trait] tag. Instead of setting a function as the effect, you set a table with a __call metafunction which does what the function would have done. The table can then have an additional __descr metafunction which updates descriptions as necessary. The built-in effects all use this structure. This metafunction takes the same arguments as the regular effect function, but should not modify the unit. Instead, it returns a string to be appended to the trait's effect description.

This page was last edited on 5 June 2021, at 20:53.