An army cannot contain more than 3 Special choices of the same type and 2 Rare choices of the same type.
To further represent the scarce nature of Special and Rare choices there is a limit on how many duplicates of each troop type you can include in your army. This is only right and proper – whilst not every Empire army will contain the same number of Great Cannons, say, there will be an upper limit as to how many such machinery will be available. Remember, this limit applies only to duplicate Special or Rare unit choices of the same type, not to the total number of Special and Rare units overall.
For example, an Empire army with its maximum allocation of 3 regiments of Greatswords could also include a couple of Mortars, a pair of Great Cannons and some Pistoliers too – provided the points don't run out, of course.
Note that this limit applies to the basic troop type and isn't dependent on the size of the unit or optional wargear. If a High Elf player takes one unit of 20 Silver Helms with shields, and one unit of 10 with shields, or one unit of 20 without shields, then he has still taken two units of Silver Helms – the difference in unit size or equipment does not matter.