Monday, November 29, 2010

Awkward Absence

Ok, well, hi.

It's sort of been a while, but there's a very good reason for that.

The last two weeks at my job have been incredibly stressful because they've been the last two weeks at my job. I work in software development and I've been going crazy trying to get everything finished up and/or getting everyone trained to take over my projects.

It's a happy last two weeks since I'm moving to a better job*, but it has still been stressful. It's left me with very little energy to do much of anything after getting home from work, and that's where I've been all this time.

I've been trying to keep up to some degree with the blogosphere in comments and such, but a combination of the previously described issue and the fact that everyone seems to be moving to Word Press which is very difficult to read from my computer at work and actually impossible to comment on, means that I've only barely been able to do that.

I've got some old (incredibly old, at this point) backlogged posts that I've written but not published that I could have gotten on here to schedule, but I just haven't had the motivation. That and I would have felt bad scheduling posts knowing that I wasn't actually here just to make it look like I was.

I'm still feeling fairly burnt out at this point, but my last day is tomorrow (Tuesday) and my first day is next Monday, so hopefully the extra-long weekend will revitalize me. Anyone have any advice on getting back in the saddle after so long?


* - Perhaps "better" isn't the best word. My old job is quite good, the new one is just a better opportunity for me and pays better. Wouldn't say either is "better" at this point.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Just A Quickie

I enjoy trueborn very much. This squad:

4Trueborn - 4 Blasters - Venom + Splinter Cannon (173pts)

is awesome. Fragile, perhaps, but I like it.

They have a tiny problem, though. It isn't a huge deal, but I think it makes them appear much better on paper than they actually are. Or rather, I think it could make people who bring them like this more likely to make poor choices elsewhere in their list.

They can't split fire.

Bring 3 squads like this and it looks like your list has 12 S8 AP2 shots; or bring 2 even and you've got 8 S8 AP2 shots. We just covered half our anti-armour needs right there. Except, those 12 S8 shots can only hit 3 targets. Granted, those are likely to be 3 dead targets, but still we can't look at these units like we just put 12 anti-armour shots into the list. We have to look at it like 3 really good anti-armour shots. (or 2, if we bring 2 units of them, which to be perfectly honest is what I would prefer)

with that in mind, do we really need 4? I mean, more is always better but if we can't split fire, how dead does something really need to be? Let's find out.

Chance to Affect Armour
3 S8 AP2 4 S8 AP2
AV10 AV10
x 0.562 0.667
AV11 AV11
x 0.459 0.559
AV12-13-14 AV12-13-14
x 0.340 0.426

As usual, 'x' represents the chance to immobilize, wreck, or explode. DE will be as much about landing useful stun results as they will outright destroying mech, but still this is just what I like to look at when I do these sorts of things.

So, it looks like that single extra shot adds about a 10% chance to down something. Not bad. Worth it for 27 points? Maybe. I don't know that the added durability of a single body does a whole lot. 4 guys with DE statlines die just as quickly as 3, and they both require 1 wound to morale test. I have no misconceptions about the frailty of this unit.

I think this might be a good place to shave off some points though, if I need them. For example, I'm playing with a list right now in which by removing a TB from each of my 2 squads of them, I can have just enough points to buy a blaster for each of my 4 warrior squads. Trading 2 bodies for 2 additional blasters that I can hit other targets with seems like a pretty good deal to me.

DE's Odd FoC

The DE book has some weird FoC choices. I don't know if they did it on purpose, but it strikes me as odd that there are 2 units that require FoC changing characters to make useful.

Why would you ever use Wracks or Hellions outside of the troops slot?

Wracks are pretty durable, but they don't actually do anything. Anyone ever taking them in the elite slot is wasting points. Imagine Plaguebearers that couldn't score and that's pretty much what Wracks would be without a Haemonculus. Maybe if you had 30 spare points, and an empty elite slot, they could be a token battery for an HQ. I can't imagine that ever being the case though.

Hellions aren't quite as bad as Wracks, but I just don't see the point in taking them outside of the troops slot. They aren't so bad that you wouldn't be hurting yourself too much by taking them in some sort of themed list, but in general any of the other FA options would likely be better. Even as troops they are still fairly lackluster, in my opinion, if they aren't accompanied by the Baron, but then they are scoring ASMEq's which is at least better than non-scoring ASMEq's.

It's just odd that they would put these units in the book in FoC slots that nobody should ever use them in. I mean, I sort of get it, I guess. If you just make Wracks troops, then it frees up 50+ points and an HQ slot, and the same can be said for Hellions. (although, I'd say the Baron is a bit more useful an HQ not counting the free token... ok, he's an actually killy HQ, let's put it that way) It's a balance issue (which is actually pretty refreshing to think that GW went to that extent) and for the most part, I guess it makes sense. It still just seems weird to me.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

But My Theme Is Competitive...

I read something over at Claws & Fists today that got me thinking about "fun" and list building.

Simo put up an article titled There is no such thing as right or wrong there is either fun or boring! in which he briefly talked about deciding how competitive you want a list to be before building it, and then he went on to talk about a Space Wolves list he would make. I don't know that he did it on purpose (the title is actually quite apt, so he may have) but he sort of indirectly touched on something quite interesting.

I'll probably stumble all over this without ever actually being able to put anything concisely into words, but here goes nothing I suppose.

The list he put together, while maybe not 100% perfectly optimized, is still a pretty competitive list.

Rune Priest
Thunderwolf Lord

Some Number of WG

4x10GH in Rhinos w/ MotW and standard
(giver or take a squad)

Some Number of TWC

2x5LF w/ 4ML

Flavor the rest to taste, and that's basically his proposed list. Now, the interesting part is that it's the most competitive list he could make out of the things that he likes. He didn't say (to us, his readers, at least) "I want unit X because it can handle unit Y and Z, and because it also offers this tactical option, etc..." it was more like "Hey, I like TWC because they're awesome and happen to be strong, I'm going to bring some." This is the thing that I'm going to try to talk about.

Why do "fun", "thematic", "fluffy", or whatever other lists that people propose have to be weak or made up of bad units?

I can imagine Simo bringing this list somewhere, giving it to an opponent, and having them respond with something about WAAC cheese. Why? Because it has TWC? Because it has 2x5 long fangs with missile launchers? Because it doesn't use blood claws? The list is strong, no doubt about that, but Razorwolves it is not. He simply created the best thing he could out of the units he liked the most.

Often on the internet, I see people talking about competitive gamers ruining the game and not playing for fun. This isn't new and the compeitive community has sort of turned the other cheek about it by now. (at the very least, there isn't quite as much drama about it as there was even just a couple of months ago) Along with this, I often see people scolding folks for taking strong units or lists that aren't "fun", "thematic", "fluffy", or whatever else and at the same time commending people for taking units or lists that are less often used. In all cases, there is little or no regard for people that create thematic, fun, fluffy lists that just so happen to be competitive, and the people getting commended are almost always doing so because of some crappy units they brought.

It seems to me as if the only way to be given any credit for making a fun, fluffy, or thematic list is to make it out of terrible units.

This hits home with me especially, because it is exactly how I am. I identify with competitive gamers, but winning is not a priority over playing with a fun list.

I would never play Razorwolves because I hate the rhino chasis. Loganwing, though, is something I legitimately enjoy as far as fun, fluff, and theme is concerned so I would really like running that style of list. Going one step further, I love wolf guard with storm bolters. I will absolutely build the strongest, most missile-spamming, storm bolter-spamming, foot Loganwing list that I possibly can with TWC (because they really are awesome) and long fangs and everything, and it would be my fun list.

I legitimately am in love with the shooty Tyranid list; hive guard, t-fexxen, tervigons, harpies are all my favorite units in the codex. Why don't I use genestealers? Because I don't like them that's why. They don't fit into the fun, fluff, or theme of my army list. The fact that they aren't very good doesn't come into it at all (I mean, if I liked them and they had their current rules, I would use them, but I don't so I don't... the same can be said that if they were amazing game-winning units, I still wouldn't use them because I don't like them) it just happens to be the case.

My DE list is basically a warrior kabal with a few beasts thrown in and will likely be fairly competitive. I am at a point with it where I really like the level of fun, fluff, and theme that it has, but I think it will also be quite strong. Lots of S8, lots of SX, lots of skimmer platforms, lots of bodies, it's going to be good but it also has all of the units that I really like. (well, except for scourge and harlies I guess, I just couldn't fit them in; I can only take so many points, after all...and to be fair, incubi are pretty awesome too)

My point is, these lists are my fun, fluffy, themed lists. They are also my competitive lists. They are very obviously not optimized or WAAC, but they are still the strongest I could make them while still taking all the units I like and nothing I don't like. Will I ever get anything other than snide remarks from certain people about not being fun? Not likely. But why? Because I use a special character? Because it looks like a netlist? Because I have a lot of spam? Because it can actually handle itself in a tough spot? Because I put thought into it at all when I put it together? Because it isn't what they think of as being fun, fluffy, or thematic?

Why do fun, fluffy, or thematic lists all have to be about blood claws, or genestealers, or thousand sons, or Necrons, or Chaos spawn? Why do strong units automatically negate any level of fun, fluff, or theme a list has?

Your idea of fun, fluffy, and thematic is an all Blood Claw army led by Wolf Priests, mine is an IG armoured company. You get to be right and I wrong just because I can win and you don't get to? Well, I've got news for you: there is no such thing as right or wrong, only fun and boring!*


* - See what I did there? Yeah. I'm pretty proud of that.

Monday, November 8, 2010

DE Models, Woo!

Got out to the FLGS this weekend and picked up my first couple of models in years. Set out to get a codex, but they were all out of the books. They had gone through all 30 they had ordered for launch by the time I got there on Sunday. Crazy!

So instead of the book, I picked up a box of warriors. This, plus the one I preordered a few weeks ago, puts me up to 2 boxes of warriors down and the entire rest of an army list to go. Woot?*

I want to take a minute to talk about how awesome these models are, though. I mean, they are quite attractive. Very clean and precise details, and a LOT of them. Not only that, but on the pieces I have done so far, there has been very little cleaning required.

I am probably more anal about mold lines than any other aspect of 40k models; I will spend hours cleaning mold lines off of as few as a dozen models, and am not above "altering" details just to be rid of the wretched things. That being said, I blew through the DE models in no time at all.

A lot of the mold lines fell on places where they almost didn't even require removing anyways, like on the edge of armour plates and such. Anywhere that it was across open plastic, the lines were very small almost to the point of not being there at all. I still had to get rid of them, but I wasn't spending time scraping down a millimeter of plastic so much as I was just sort of smoothing out some tiny ridges. I didn't finish them all, but what I did manage to do went very smoothly.

DE have a lot of spikes, though, many of which have mold lines going right down the middle of them and into the little valleys between. It's not so bad to clean with an X-acto knife or small file when they're spread out a little, but some of the little spikes, on the lower legs for example, were nearly the width of my blade apart from each other. Made not so bad by the fact that, as I mentioned, the actual lines were very thin, but it was still a bit of a hassle.


* - Did I mention that I'm going to be building this army rather slowly? The cost of entry for this hobby is so high, and there's no way I could justify dropping a few hundred dollars all at once. At the rate I intend to hobby the models into existence anyways, there really isn't any point for me to have more than a box or two at a time. I figure I'll buy a box or two, assemble/paint/base them and then when I'm done (and/or tired of doing those units) pick up the next box. I won't be getting into the gaming side of things at breakneck speed this way, but it will be a lot more comfortable for me and my schedule and will give me more time to focus on getting them painted to a reasonable standard. When it comes to aesthetics, I am:

a) A totally anal perfectionist.
b) Pretty terrible at painting.

With a little bit of math, I can safely say that a+b=I might be here for a while...**

Also, right now my list is as-yet unfinanalized. I've got it relatively figured out (I think...for now, at least) but I'm not 100% sure just yet. The only thing I can really say for sure that I'm going to need is a shit-ton of warrior models and skimmers. Didn't want to buy a raider just yet (I'd like to get some more painting under my belt before I go on to vehicles. Maybe it'd be better the other way around, practice on the larger model before going into the tiny details, but those large flat areas worry me. I can't just leave them solid, but frankly I'm fairly terrified at anything I might have to do to make them more interesting.) so I figured I'd knock out some warriors.

** - Got a test model painted a little while back, so I can say firsthand that this will likely be the case. It came out what I would consider slightly less than acceptable and it still took me several hours to complete.***

*** - I don't think I watered my paints down quite enough and my paint ended up going on way too thick. Oh yeah, and I never finished it. A couple of hours basically just to get it basecoated with some tiny lowlighting. Actually, that's only mostly basecoated. I'm missing some colors that I wanted and/or I just didn't want to deal with trying to paint some parts of it since it was just a test model. In retrospect, what the heck was I doing the whole time? I blame Jeremy Wade.

I've been meaning to put up pictures of it, but I keep forgetting and/or coming up with reasons not to. I'll do it sometime soon, with any luck.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

DE Troop Comparison: Wracks v Warriors (The Lightning Round)

I think I may have been a bit hard on the wracks. Five of them in a venom is a very durable, very cheap unit, and they're pretty decent in CC for standard troops. Liquifiers are also a plus.

I still just don't like them.

I mean, they were pretty much better than warriors at everything except ranged firepower and flexibility. Still, those two are pretty big in my book. I like fire support, torrent of fire, that sort of thing. Venoms can put out some good anti-infantry, but so can 10 warriors with a cannon.

Sure they're durable, but so what? Bringing one or two to camp objectives and/or be annoying will be a great idea, but I just don't see myself filling my troops slots with anything other than warriors. The bottom line is that warriors get great anti-infantry in all the SX, some good anti-armour in the raider's DL and a blaster for the squad if I can swing it, and if they can get their hands on a token, they can be pretty durable themselves. They offer me flexibility to do whatever is needed to be done.

But wracks can take a raider instead of a venom. So, what, I give up most of the ranged anti-infantry in the army for a couple of dark lances? Think I'll pass on that one.

No, despite the favorable numbers, wracks still just aren't doing it for me. I think my list will be:

10Warriors - SC - Raider + Shields
10Warriors - SC - Raider + Shields
10Warriors - SC - Raider + Shields
10Warriors - SC - Raider + Shields
5Wracks - Liquifier - Venom + SC

That CC harassment unit I had before in the wyches, I think I've found something else to cover. I'll go into it more a little bit down the road.

P.S. - WOO! DE launch day! Can't wait to get off work to go pick up some stuff at the FLGS.

Friday, November 5, 2010

DE Troop Comparison: Wracks v Warriors (Pt II)

When we left off, neither unit really stuck out as being superior. Shooting power was basically a wash and wracks pulled slightly ahead in CC ability, but not by any sort of ridiculous margin. So let's see about durability.

There isn't quite as much to this math as the other, but it hurts my brain more to do. You have to think about recipricals and it just seems counter-intuitive to what I usually want to do with gaming math.

For example, a BS3 S3 weapon shooting at a T3 target with a 3+ armor save would be:
2 X 2 X 2 = 8 shots expected to wound

Basically, 3 out of 6 shots will hit thanks to BS3 (aka: 1 in every 2), so the number of shots before we can expect* one to hit would be 2. The same can be said for wounding and armor save. 3 out of 6 that do hit, wound, and 3 out of 6 that wound aren't saved by the armor.

When we figure it out from an offensive point of view, we usually take those numbers and do something like:

(3/6) X (3/6) X (3/6) => (1/2) X (1/2) X (1/2) => (1/8) = 0.125 chance to cause a wound

But when we want to know how many shots I can take before I am expected to take a wound, we use the recipricals of the fractions. (reciprical, meaning the opposite, like 6/3 instead of 3/6)

(6/3) X (6/3) X (6/3) => 2 X 2 X 2 = 8

(the canny individual might observe that 8 = 1/0.125, which is exactly what we're doing by using all the recipricals, except where 2x2x2 isn't a big deal, fractions can get a bit trickier to do in your head)

Meaning, I can tank 7 shots and then expect the 8th to be a wound. Of course, this is all averages and expected values, etc. Just because math says 24 lasgun shots should kill 3 (24/8=3) of my T3/3+ guys, it doesn't mean it will happen that way every time. The average over every game we ever play will be 3, but we might never see exactly 3 deaths. Again, expected value is what we're working with here. It isn't perfect, but it's as good as we can get. And besides, if math could tell us the exact outcomes for everything, then there wouldn't be any point in playing the game. Where would the fun be in that?

So, to the table:

Warriors v Wracks: Ranged Wounds
10 Warriors 5 Wracks
MEq S4 MEq S4
1 W 2.25 6
25% 4.5 12
All W 22.5 30
MEq S6 MEq S6
1 W 1.8 3.6
25% 3.6 7.2
All W 18 18
Warriors v Wracks: CC Wounds
MEq S4 MEq S4
1 W 4.5 9.6
25% 9 19.2
All W 45 48
5's 5's
1 W 2.7 5.4
25% 5.4 10.8
All W 27 27

And there we have it. Wracks are significantly more durable, but because there are less of them the required attacks to wipe out the whole squad are about even.

Now comes the tricky part. The part I don't like as much. The part that isn't about numbers...

Our math shows us that neither unit is enormously more desirable than the other, so now we have to look at all the other factors. Ugh, subjectivity.

Well, for starters, all the wrack math was including FNP, but none of the warrior stuff was. So if the warriors can get a pain token, they'll be far more survivable than the wracks against most things. At S6 and S7, the wracks will still be better per model but the number of attacks to wipe the squad will be the same.

Hmm, warriors come with 3 raiders with dark lances, and the option of taking a blaster. That's nice. The wracks have literally nothing that can touch armor. Anti-infantry is nice to have, but dedicated anti-infantry is dangerous.

Venoms are more durable than raiders, sort of. Taking nightshields makes them the same point cost and leaves the 3 warrior squads 5 points under the cost of the 4 wracks. Alternatively taking 5++ shields puts the warriors 10 points over the 4 wracks. Sort of a wash there.

What about less quantifiable things? Like, threat level. What's a higher priority target? 10 warriors in a raider? Or 5 wracks in a venom? I'm thinking the warriors, mostly for psychological reasons. Who was it, Fritz, I think, that had the 100% fool-proof video tactica where he basically said "people suck at target priority, so put whatever you want them to shoot in front and 90% of the time they will". I think, given the choice between shooting at 4 x 5 guys with T4 and FNP or 3 x 10 guys with T3 and nothing, most people would take aim at the 10. Whether or not this is tactically sound depends on the situation, obviously, but people like to feel like they're doing something. Killing 2 or 3 warriors is more satisfying than rolling a bunch of FNP saves and only killing 1, even though they represent the same percentage of the original squad size. Also, there are 4 of them? I'll never be able to kill them all.

It's human nature, I think. When faced with a lot of things to do (small tasks, or otherwise) we tend to get overwhelmed and do nothing. This weekend I need to do the laundry, clean the house, do the dishes, go grocery shopping, and change the oil. Ugh, there's so much to do I'll never get it all done. I guess I'll just watch TV instead. If doing what we deem an acceptably easy piece of the whole makes little appreciable difference in what still needs to be done yet, then we shut down and do nothing. That is why I feel like wracks won't get targeted quite as much.

I thought we were using math to figure this out, not psychology. What happened? Eh, it is what it is. Math failed me so now I'm ranting.

At the end of the day, I think it's going to come down to personal preference and how I feel about the units. I prefer the warriors, but I feel like using them exclusively isn't good.

This is what I want in my troops: 3 units warriors, 2 units wracks, 1 unit wyches. That gives me the shooty-death awesomeness of the warriors, a couple of units that are tough to move and have some decent output, and a squad of wyches to do whatever; hold an objective in cover daring someone to charge, tarpit PWs or other big scary CC units, go get into CC of their own, whatever is necessary.**

I feel like that would be a great mix. I also feel like it's too much. I haven't done the points yet, but it feels like too much. I'd still like a useful HQ (either an archon, useful character, or possibly more haemonculi) and some heavy infantry. Don't know how much I could fit in with my core + 3+2+1. I'm still liking the Baron+5 too. Does he force you to take hellions as troops? Or does he just make it an option?


* - Probability is all about expected values. It doesn't mean that is what is going to happen, but it's the best approximation we can get when trying to do the math.

Sometimes it doesn't even make sense. What is the expected outcome if I roll a D6? 3.5, which, as it turns out, isn't even an option.

** - Wyches really are awfully versatile. I wonder if a full on wych cult would be any good. I can see it going either way, really. Eh, it doesn't especially interest me, but it's an interesting thought.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

DE Troop Comparison: Wracks v Warriors (Pt I)

I still can't decide on which type of troops to use. I want to take warriors, but there's this little part of me nibbling away at my resolve that keeps saying wracks might be too good not to use. Let's see what we can see.

For this I am comparing a single squad of warriors and a single squad of wracks:
10 Warriors - Splinter Cannon - Raider
5 Wracks - Liquifier - Venom + Splinter Cannon

These are very much not equal in cost, but they are the units that I would be taking in my list. Comparing them at equal point levels wouldn't help me any if I don't plan on taking them in whatever configuration that would be. My list would have either 4 wracks or 3 warriors, so the final conclusion will likely include that. For my liquifier, I am calculating the chance to wound per single model. Since it is a template weapon and auto-hits, it is more useful this way. It allows me to figure out how many hits I need to get on the template in order to make things even.

First, let's take a look at some shooting stats:

Ranged Combat: Warriors v Wracks
10Warriors + SC(min) 10Warriors + SC(max) 5Wracks + Liquifier Venom + 2SC
v MEq v MEq v MEq v MEq
h 8.666 16 1 8
w 4.333 8 0.5 4
k 1.444 2.666 0.333 1.333
v GEq v GEq v GEq v GEq
h 8.666 16 1 8
w 4.333 8 0.648 4
k 4.333 8 0.555 4
v 5's v 5's v 5's v 5's
h 8.666 16 1 8
w 4.333 8 0.333 4
k 0.722 1.333 0.185 0.666

Alright, so what does this tell us? Well, 12 SX shots are almost as good as 13, but 24 are twice as good. Just in case there was ever any question of that. Liquifiers are pretty good too. Let's see, some more quick math:

Warriors(min) 2SC + 1 Template hit
v MEq v MEq
k 1.444 1.666
v GEq v GEq
k 4.333 4.648
v 5's v 5's
k 0.722 0.851
Warriors(max) 2SC + 4 Template hits
v MEq v MEq
k 2.666 2.666
v 5's v 5's
k 1.333 1.407
Warriors(max) 2SC + 7 Template hits
v GEq v GEq
k 8 8.537

In all cases, a venom + a single model under the template will cause more wounds than the whole warrior squad shooting on the move. That's pretty neat. Compared to the warrior squad at max shots (rapid fire and Heavy 6), the wracks need 4 MEq's or 5's under the template to come out on top, or 7 GEq's. That's a bit trickier to manage, but still not bad.

The main (unquantified) kicker here, though, is range. Moving around to try to stay between 24 and 36 inches, the wracks still have two cannons where the warriors only have the one. So in that range, the wracks are better. Between 12 and 24, the warriors get everything but the wracks still only get the 2 cannons, so the warriors are better. At point blank, if the wracks can bring their template to bear well enough, they can come out on top. It sort of seems like a wash, overall.

Squad vs squad, the numbers are pretty even. For the same points, though, I can have 4 wrack units but only 3 warriors. Increasing killiness by 33% is cool, but not exactly no-brainer territory.

How about assault? Warriors are nothing scary in CC, but wracks are pretty sweet with their 2 poisoned attacks. Let's see:

Close Combat: Warriors v Wracks on the charge
10Warriors + SC 5Wracks + Liquifier
v MEq v MEq
h 10 7.5
w 3.333 3.75
k 1.111 1.25
v GEq b GEq
h 13.333 10
w 6.666 5
k 4.444 3.333
v 5's v 5's
h 6.666 5
w 1.111 2.5
k 0.370 0.416

So again, they're somewhat close. The wracks are clearly superior, but not by a huge amount. They're both likely to kill 1 MEq, or about 1 5's ever 3 combats. The weight of numbers of the warrior squad kills more GEq's, but so what? Everything kills GEq's. How about outside of the charge or against something with grenades?

Close Combat: Warriors v Wracks general combat
10Warriors + SC 5Wracks + Liquifier
v MEq v MEq
h 5 5
w 1.666 2.5
k 0.555 0.833
v GEq v GEq
h 6.666 6.666
w 3.333 3.333
k 2.222 2.222
v 5's v 5's
h 3.333 3.333
w 0.555 1.666
k 0.185 0.277

I think that for these units, generally speaking, if you are in CC without your bonus A, something bad is happening. Well, that's not true. Hanging out in cover and shooting guys until they charge you isn't an especially bad option. They aren't as good at it as, say, Space Wolves, but it's still at least a decent tactic if your raider gets shot out from under you. Still though, it isn't exactly something I'd like to rely on. Maybe if I'm running on foot with max squad sizes, but otherwise, meh.

Anyways, wracks pull ahead a little bit, but there still isn't really a clear winner yet. Let's look at durability and see if anything becomes more apparent. If they are at least mostly equally killy, but one is significantly more survivable then the choice will be obvious. This has gone on for a while already, though, so I think I'll append a "Pt I" to the title of this and tackle that in part II. (this post isn't especially long, but all the table stuff takes some effort so I'm going to take a break for a while)

Monday, November 1, 2010

Core List(s)

I'm driving myself crazy playing with lists. Partly because I keep second-guessing everything, and partly because I just don't have enough information about the codex. Guessing and hearsay only go so far for determining points values.

I hated wracks when I first went through the codex, and I still hate them, but I cannot deny all that they bring to the table. It stands the possibility of leaving a poor taste in my mouth, but I've been toying with some wrack lists. Generally speaking, here are the two core lists I'm working with:

1 Haemonculus

4 Trueborn - 4 Blasters - Venom
4 Trueborn - 4 Blasters - Venom

10 Warriors - Splinter Cannon - Raider
10 Warriors - Splinter Cannon - Raider
10 Warriors - Splinter Cannon - Raider

5 Scourge - 2 Heat Lances
5 Scourge - 2 Heat Lances


Here is the warrior variant. The first core I came up with. I still like this one the most. There's some wargear I'd like to take, but didn't include just because it's mostly optional stuff. Some sort of shields on the raiders would be nice, extra cannons on the venoms, stuff like that. As is, it has 12 dark lances, 8 blasters, 4 heat lances, 88 SX (on average) shots, 49 bodies, and 8 platforms. Considering it also leaves me with 561 points to spare, this is pretty not bad, if you ask me.

No CC presence whatsoever, but I do plan to use some of whatever points are left over for harlies and probably at least 1 unit of wyches. Wyches are great at tying up dangerous units in CC, and harlies are just good at killing stuff in general.

Part 2:
1 Haemonculus

4 Trueborn - 4 Blasters - Venom
4 Trueborn - 4 Blasters - Venom

5 Wracks - Liquifier - Venom + Splinter Cannon
5 Wracks - Liquifier - Venom + Splinter Cannon
5 Wracks - Liquifier - Venom + Splinter Cannon
5 Wracks - Liquifier - Venom + Splinter Cannon

5 Scourge - 2 Heat Lances
5 Scourge - 2 Heat Lances


The only difference here is obviously in the troops. Total, this is 20 points more so it leaves me with 541 to play with. I'm trading 3 dark lances and 6 SX shots (on average*) for 4 liquifiers and more durable troops. Worth it? I don't know. I have 10 less bodies with the wracks, how much more durable are we talking here? Are 9 dark lances with 8 blasters and 4 heat lances enough? Would those 3 extra really make that big a difference? I'll have to do some thinking on it. Maybe run some numbers, see what happens. Not now, though, there's more to be discussed.

My main gripe with the second list is that it has wracks instead of warriors. Firstly, I still think that DE warriors are some of the best units in the book. Maybe they fold like an already-folded paper bag in CC, and don't have much durability at range either, but they're pretty cheap, can take decent weapons, and splinter rifles are potentially the strongest standard guns in the game. Basically, my point is that they are Dark Eldar.

Wracks, on the other hand, are marines. Their roles (as I see it) are to:
1) sit in their transport and shoot stuff until they get de-boxed
2) sit in cover and shoot stuff until they get charged (not quite as good at this as marines)
3) ride up in their transport and shoot all assault weapons before charging into CC
4) hold objectives

That's obviously a gross over-simplification, but generally speaking these are the things that wracks do; eerily similar to the things that marines do. Perhaps that is why the internet is so in love with them.

"Wyches, so they're weaker ASM? No thanks."
"Warriors, these guys look like Tau statlines. No thanks."
"Wracks? Now here is something I can work with."

Everyone already knows how to use them because they play like marines. Marines have a paradigm that is comfortable and effective. This is the "safe" option. I don't want "safe". If I wanted to play marines, I would. I want to play DE. I want speed and I want death.

Maybe wracks are good, maybe they're even fun to play, they just don't seem very characterful to me. I've said before that I'm not a competitive gamer, but that's only mostly true. I don't care how much I love blood claws, I'd never use them instead of grey hunters. If there is something that I like better that is at least pretty close to being as viable, though, then I will use that instead. I feel like warriors are very viable, so more than likely I will be running with them. Only time will tell for sure, though.

Well, time and Excel, perhaps...


* - By the way, when I say on average, I'm referring to variable rate of fire weapons. Rapid fire becomes 1.5 shots, and infantry-bound cannons become 5 shots. I know it isn't 100% accurate, but it's at least better than assuming always max or always min shots.

HoP: Creepy Miniature Contest

Here's my entry for the creepiest/scariest/weirdest mini contest over at the House of Paincakes.

From a CMON forum post I found a long time ago:

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Ye Got Me In Me Mizzenmast

I have a job that allows me to listen to a lot of music at work. What I listen to tends to come from a wide range of styles and genres.* A couple of weeks ago, I discovered this band called Alestorm.

Alestorm is sort of like if some 17th century pirates got together and started making metal. Their songs are about things like keelhauling, mutiny, treasure, etc; they occasionally use piratey instruments like organs, accordians, and bitchin' guitars; and all of the lyrics are sung in that pirate accent we all know and love.

Yeah, they're pretty sweet.

Anyways, the DE are often described as being rather piratical and listening to this music so much lately has almost made me want to convert up a pirate-themed DE army. Not quite, but almost. If I wasn't sure that I would switch to ninjas, or vikings, or trolls just as soon as I found a similarly awesome band with a different theme, I might be a bit more inspired.

Perhaps I'll just pirate up a Duke model and leave it at that.


* - Ok, maybe not really. Mostly it all relates to either metal or techno in some way. Also nerdcore, but there is a lot less of that to listen to. Optimus Rhyme is still my favorite band ever, though. Them and Rush. Alright, so maybe it is sort of eclectic.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Dirty Hippies

I'm sure no more than 1 of you care, but Gretchen is such a bitch.

The Duke

I've been thinking about my main HQ choice lately. Undoubtedly, the Duke offers the most for what you pay for. But is it really worth it? Buying a million grand pianos for a million dollars is an undeniably good deal, but if I don't have a million dollars (or don't need a million pianos) then it isn't worth it.

The Duke offers the following things for the relatively reasonable price of 150 points:
  • Deepstrike for your skimmer platforms
  • Roll 2 dice, pick what you want from the combat drugs table
  • A unit of warriors or trueborn that he deploys with get 3+ poison weapons
  • His wargear:
    • 2+ poison attacks that ignore armor on 5+ in CC
    • Shadowfield
    • Blast Pistol

Again, undoubtedly a lot of stuff for his cost. But I don't know if it really fits in my list.

I don't see myself taking more than 1 unit with combat drugs. While ensuring I get something I want is nice, if only a single squad is benefiting from it, is it really necessary? If I were running a full wych list, then it would definitely be worth it; his contraband special rule would be effecting 40-60 girls instead of just 8 or 9. As it is though, I'm not sure.

I think deep striking any of the DE platforms is a bad idea. Deep striking vehicles seems neat, but they're large and difficult to get in somewhere meaningful without mishap. On top of that, do they really need to DS? Their weapons have good range, they are fast and can move 12" without losing firepower, and they are incredibly frail so putting them closer to the enemy means they get shot by small arms fire that much sooner. Sure it might be nice to have as an option, but it isn't something I ever see myself doing outside of very specific circumstances.*

3+ poison weapons are great, but I have no idea where I'm going to fit him in. My TB are all wielding blasters, so he would be useless with them.*** To fit him with a warrior squad, I'd have to drop one of them to 9 and lose a cannon (which would be pointless since poisoned shots are why he'd be joining the squad to begin with) or to start them outside of their raider. This has complications of its own. Does he merely have to start the game with a squad? Or does he have to stay with that squad? I haven't read the rules, so I don't know; I've just seen what people have been saying, and nobody has mentioned this. Also, I would have to start the game with the 11 of them outside of their raider, first turn move the Duke into wherever I want him to go (I'll address this in my next point), and then embark the warriors into their raider and zoom off. Can I do all of these things in one turn? No idea. If nothing else, it seems needlessly complicated.

After the game starts, what the heck do I do with him? The best I can come up with is to stick him in with a wych squad. I mean, he doesn't really offer much beyond utility, but he is pretty decent in CC so I may as well get him there. Putting him with harlies isn't a good idea since he'd slow them down. Putting him with incubi wouldn't be a bad idea, but I just can't fit them into a list in a useful way yet so I don't know if I'll be taking any. I'd love to, but they're just so expensive and/or slow.

Basically, I would be taking this character for his massive utility, barely using any of it, and then rushing him into general CC just because I don't have anything better to do with him. Is it worth it? I'm beginning to think it may not be.

I'm not 100% sure on the Archon pricing, so I'll have to look into it when I get my hands on the book, but it might be possible to trade in the Duke and my harlies for a cheap Archon, a reasonably sized incubi squad, and a raider.

In the current list I've been playing with, I can trade my 6 harlies+Shadowseer and the Duke for 7 incubi + Klavex + Onslaught + naked raider + 87 points worth of Archon. Don't know what sort of useful Archon I can make for 87 points (possibly 117, I've got 30 spare points tied up in a min unit of wracks that I threw in for going to ground on an objective all game), but it may be worth it.

I gain a heavy-infantry assault model, a raider with a dark lance, and whatever the Archon can take. (with so few extra points, the Archon's wargear may be a loss compared to the Duke's, I can't say at this point)

I lose a second combat drug die which only a single squad was making use of, platform deepstriking I was never going to use, 3+ poison for a squad that may have been unwieldly to use, and the Duke's own combat prowess. (again, this may not be a loss if the Archon can be comparable or better) I also lose the harlies which are mathematically more durable than the incubi, but not as killy. (ok, incubi are more durable against normal stuff, but the harlies are significantly more durable against power weapons and shooting. I know vacuumhammer is dumb, but a full squad of harlequins basically go 50/50 when being charged by 10 TH/SS terminators because they just can't kill enough of the harlies fast enough. That's pretty crazy, if you ask me.)

So there is my predicament. He brings a lot to the table(see what I did there?), but I don't know that it's worth it. With a little jockeying I can drop the Duke and bring Baron and a min squad of helions. Would this be a better option? (ironically, it gives me another unit with combat drugs that would benefit from the Duke, ah well)

The IC-pull-out-of-CC thing is situationally useful at best, in my opinion. (I keep envisioning doing it and having my opponent go "cool, thanks for the free charge") Also the hellion statlines are not especially impressive to me. I guess if you look at it like you're getting a MEq with double the range, then it's not so bad. Having a quick troop unit to contest/hold late game would be nice, but only if they can last that long. (since warrior squads in raiders don't do this already, right?) An additional CC threat to draw fire away from everything else might be nice to have too. +1 to going first is a decent boon as well.

You know, I was not impressed by the hellions when I first saw them, but maybe a small unit of them with the Baron wouldn't be a bad idea after all. Shame their models are probably my least favorites of the new line. Sure they're an improvement on the old stuff, but why oh why are they barefoot?

Looks like it's back to the drawing board for now.


* - I don't know what these circumstances might be, so it is possible that they don't exist. I'm sort of giving them the benefit of the doubt here and assuming there is at least some time that it might be a useful tactic. Maybe if I'm running incubi? Or maybe to get a webway portal somewhere convenient faster?**

** - I also don't see myself using WWP's. They offer some neat tactical options, but I think they're just a gimmick that won't really have a place in most lists unless you build around them. Sort of like teleport beacons on marines. Sure they're useful, but they aren't really necessary unless you design your army around them.

*** - I've thought about bumping them to 3 blasters and a cannon, but I think this moves away from useful duality and into wasted shots. At least the SC is cheaper than a blaster. Maybe if I really need 10 points for something I'll switch the TB squads, but ultimately I don't like the configuration. Alternatively, I can take one loaded with cannons and carbines in a raider with splinter racks. This comes in at a bit over 200 points, but 42 SX shots hitting and wounding on 3+ with 30 of them rerolling to hit is a lot of dead infantry. Maybe that can be a fun unit that I play around with sometimes.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Wych Loadout Reevaluation

I ran across some talk recently over on HERO's Gaming Blog* about wych weapons. The advice was that the shardnet is actually the best option for wyches. Generally speaking, neither gauntlets nor razorflails add as much as another vanilla wych, but they cost the same, so having another body is better whenever you can take it. Also, the shardnet, while not nearly as killy as either other option, will reduce the number of incoming attacks significantly more than anything else.

Basically, unless the gauntlets or razorflails allow you to wipe out an opponent immediately, the shardnet will reduce the number of attacks you take back, therefore increasing the number of attacks you get to make next turn, therefore making them more killy in the long run since saving even a single wych model will give you more damage output than having gauntlets or a flail.

As can be seen from the math I posted in my initial bit about wych weapons, I found that in most of the cases that I tested against, the razorflails actually did produce more wounds than another vanilla wych model would. Against GEqs, they did not, nor if I had rr to wound on the combat drugs. In most other scenarios though, a wych with razorflail killed more things than two plain wyches. (and actually, they'll do better than I originally figured, I did all that math at S3 rather than SX, which I think I've heard wyches are poisoned in CC)

Initially I had looked passed the shardnet because it doesn't kill things. My reasoning was that the wyches are sort of a CC clean-up squad so I would want them to hit super hard and wipe out their target as reliably as possible. Now that I think about it, though, and after seeing the arguments for it from HERO's blog, I'm thinking the shardnet might be the better option.

Now here is my concern: single A models.

The sharnet may be the best choice against models with more than one A (literally doubling your survivability against models in B2B with 2A), but they don't reduce attacks below 1, so against most things they will be a waste. This goes against what I see as the wych's primary purpose.

I feel like they fit in very nicely as a troop-killing CC unit. They have some durability in CC with their dodge save and FNP, but ultimately getting these ladies into combat with anything else that is meant to be there is not going to be a great idea. Combat drugs on a S3, T3, 1A+1, 4+ only seems really scary if you aren't supposed to be in CC yourself and you're outnumbered. They murder Tau and Guardsmen, but even ultra grit marines will laugh at them if the numbers are even. Basically, anything with more than 1A, I'm not going to want to be in base contact with (or so I think) and therefore the shardnet may be a waste.

Or, it could be insurance against things that I don't want to be in combat with that I get stuck with anyways. Maybe I swoop in to finish off some marines, and next turn his assault termies charge me. I'm still going to get reamed, but maybe the shardnet will buy me enough time to do something useful. Or maybe just insurance against getting charged in general, for that matter.

I don't know.

Fortunately (or not, as it makes the decision that much harder) all the weapon upgrades are the same points cost. For now, I think my lists will just include "wych weapon" in general and as I playtest perhaps I'll be able to figure out what I want.

As Sorrowshard pointed out in the last post's comments: 4++, defensive grenades, FNP, and -1A is a lot of durability. All I know is that sounds pretty good to me.


* - This blog, btw, contains probably the best DE discussion that I've seen so far. I don't necessarily agree with 100% of what he says, but different strokes and all that. The guy definitely has some good ideas. Perhaps strangest of all, his comments contain a lot of great discussion as well. At the very least, he's leagues better than than the DE list building and analysis I've seen on BoLS.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Optimal Loadouts: Combat Drugs and Wych Weapons

Not quite a loadout option, per se, but with Sliscus as my most likely HQ choice, I thought I'd do some math and figure out which combat drug options were the most desirable and in combination with which wych weapons. The options are:

3D6 and pick the highest on run moves*
Reroll CC wounds
+1 pain token

I'm going to calculate the average number of kills on the charge for a single wych and for one with each type of wych weapon. (the 2 good ones, anyways) I will then use the numbers to determine which setup I can expect to perform the best.

v MEq v GEq v 5's@
CCW +1S 0.25 1.111 0.055
+1WS 0.222 1.041 0.041
+1A 0.222 1.111 0.037
+rrW 0.277 1.25 0.050
Razorflail +1S 0.562   1.975   0.154
+1WS 0.493 1.822 0.114
+1A 0.555 2.222 0.113
+rrW 0.416 1.666 0.084
Hydra Gauntlet +1S 0.458 2.037 0.152
+1WS 0.407 1.909 0.076
+1A 0.361 1.808 0.060
+rrW 0.509 2.291 0.093

@ - 5's is a statline I usually run math against in these sorts of comparisons. Generally speaking, it is a unit with 5's across its statline and a 2+ (5 chances to save) hence 5's. It doesn't necessarily represent a specific unit, but it is something that is supposed to be a very tough enemy that is generally the most trouble I expect to run into with generalist troops. It is supposed to show a worst-case scenario type of encounter. Obviously plenty of things have T6 or higher, but if I'm charging a 'fex it really won't matter. Either the wyches are my last unit, the 'fex is his last unit, or it's a desperate bottom-of-the-9th move that the entire game rests upon; in any case, it's not something I'm going to be planning for when I choose which drugs I want.

So now that we have our killing values, let's see what loadout will be the best.
(I'm assuming 8 CCW wyches with 1 special weapon, the 10th is the Haemonculus, so each value will be 8*wych + RF or HG)

v MEq   v GEq v 5's
8 + 1Razorflail +1S 2.562 10.86 0.594
+1WS 2.269 10.15 0.442
+1A 2.331 11.11 0.409
+rrW 2.632 11.67 0.484
8 + 1Hydra Gaunt +1S 2.458 10.93   0.592
+1WS 2.183 10.24 0.404
+1A 2.137 10.7 0.356
+rrW 2.725 12.29 0.493

Well there we have it. Generally speaking, the razorflail comes out on top. On average, that is. The problem (and strength) with the gauntlets is they are random. Attacks become 1+D6, which can be great if you roll all 4+, but awful if you roll 3-. As Brent says, "consistent is competitive". What this math shows is that, fortunately, we can take the more reliable option and know that it is both more consistent and better on average. We can have that reliability without gimping ourselves. What will end up happening if you take the gauntlets is every 3-strong squad of guardsmen you face will roll 6's, and every group of TWC will roll 1's. That's just how it goes, so the dependability will be very nice to have.

So I think I will take a razorflail in my wych squad and prioritize drugs as follows:

1(0.305) - Reroll wounds
2(0.25) - +1S
3(0.194) - +1A
4(0.138) - +1WS
5(0.111) - D3 run/pain token depending on the situation

Even though the flails come with reroll to wounds and thus the drugs are wasted on them, the effects they have on the rest of the squad are enough to make it the best option.

The paren values represent the chance that I will get that outcome. Yes, in 2 dice each value has the same percent chance of being rolled (assuming perfectly fair dice, lawl) but if I roll a 2 and a 1, the 2 doesn't count because I'll pick the 1 every time. For example, there are only 4 rolls in 36 possible that will make me choose my least favorable option: (1,1)(1,6)(6,1)(6,6). Pretty favorable odds, if you ask me.


* - If I can help it, I don't plan to take either a 1 or a 6 on the roll for this. D3 on a run move doesn't seem especially useful since I don't expect them to do much running**, and the free pain token is nice but they already get 1 free from the haemonculus and with I6 already, furious charge isn't going to be as useful as a flat +1S.

** - You know, because AV10 open-topped skimmers are so durable...

Friday, October 22, 2010

Pretend Like Instead of a Title, This Is the Noise From Metal Gear Solid When Someone Sees You

It would appear as if I have been discovered. Dethtron of Dick Move (which happens to be one of my favorite bloggers/blogs) put up a Mathlete of the Week post highlighting my blog. Seeing someone that I hold in such high regard saying things like

"It's a damn shame, but it looks like he's been at it for a little over a month now and doesn't have much of a following yet, in spite of some pretty good content..."


"...make sure to follow it if you like what you see- I know I did. Nice work Zheilt. I'm looking forward to seeing more of your stuff."

is sort of an insane feeling. My ladyfriend and I were both freaking out the other night when we saw it. I wasn't really expecting to get scouted, but a big thanks to Dethtron for the compliments.

But enough about me, let's talk about you. My little followers list has grown quite a bit beyond its previously sole member in the last couple of days, and my hitcounter has been blowing up like crazy. (well, compared to how it normally is anyways) I know you guys are out there. Speak up in the comments section, and let's see if I set this thing up properly to send me emails.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Proof The Internet Is Stupid, Pt II

Oh my gadz! First turn 84% of the time*? OVERPOWERED! NERF! IMBA! LEAFBLOWER! METAGAME!

Newsflash: you're an idiot.

Those 2 characters are well into the 300's total points cost. With raiders and dark lances more expensive than ever, that really hurts. Besides, not playing like a retard is all it takes to beat this sort of list anyways. Even moreso than IG. All the same tactics that destroy the "famed" leafblower style lists hurt DE even more. At least IG are AV12+, not open-topped, and can have cheap bubblewrap units.

Q: What do DE players do when they play this list and their opponents full reserve or use deepstriking units?

A: Start packing up.**


* - With Sathonyx and Vect.

Roll-off Results
36 possible outcomes
21 wins
10 losses
5 draws

5*(21/36) = 2.91666 more wins from first 5 draws
1*(21/36) = .58333 more wins from 1 remaining draw
               = 3.5 more wins from all draws
               = 24.5 total wins out of 36 possible die outcomes

24.5/36 = .680556 chance to win initial roll-off
[1-(24.5/36)] X (3/6) = .159722 additional first turns from siezed initiative
.680556 + .159722 = .840278 => 84% total chance to go first

** - That being said, it will completely decimate everyone anyways. If the internet has shown us anything about 40k gamers, it's that they don't like thinking tactically and so this list will rock them all***. It will be the 4-move checkmate of 40k. Prepare for the FAQ to nerf this combination for no reason other than because general(ly wrong) consensus makes it out to be unfair.

*** - Now that I think of it, maybe if I play a list like this, it will create a new metagame in my area where everyone tries to play more tactically in order to win. Perhaps that is what Darkwynn was trying to do all along...

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Optimal Loadouts: DE Warriors

I've been thinking a lot about optimal loadouts for warriors. There's a thing I like to do when weighing multi-variable options where I rank each piece of each option and then, generally speaking, the option with the lowest total is the best; alternatively, the option with the lowest average rank. So with that in mind, thinking about maximum efficiency in general, let's see what we can see:

  Cost 36"Lance 18"Lance SX SX(max) Bodies
5Warr+B 55   1 4 8 5
-Venom+SC 65     12 12 1
TOTALS 120 0 1 16 20 6
RANK 1 3 1 1 2 2
10Warr+DL 105 1   9 18 10
-Raider+5++ 75 1       1
TOTALS 180 2 0 9 18 11
RANK 3 1 2 3 3 1
10Warr+SC 90     13 24 10
-Raider+5++ 75 1       1
TOTALS 165 1 0 13 24 11
RANK 2 2 2 2 1 1
10Warr+B+DL 120 1 1 8 16 10
-Raider+5++ 75 1       1
TOTALS 195 2 1 8 16 11
RANK 4 1 1 4 4 1

With this, the best option becomes pretty obvious. Our ranking tells us that both the 5Warrior+Blaster+Venom and the 10Warrior+SC+Raider options are the best, however, the better choice of the two is obviously the 10 warriors in the raider. Not only does it have twice as many bodies, it has the added benefit of having its lance weapon both longer range and on a vehicle. Additionally, there is always the option of adding a blaster to the group to increase the lance count. This would make the points go up and the SX shots go down, shifting the rankings to put it in second and bumping the 5man-venom squad into third. In a few weeks when I realize how awesome blasters are, it's going to be a great option.

The ranking helps me to sort through things in a little bit easier manner, but it is important to pay attention to unranked factors as well. For example, mobility is important in 40k and is always something to consider. If the 10Warriors+DL+Raider option was able to move a full 12" without losing any of its firepower, but none of the other options could, then it might be something to keep in mind when choosing what you're going to field. Even if it came in third in the ranking, the fact that it was so much more mobile might be enough to make it the most desirable option.

In this case, it just so happened that mobility doesn't really change anything with both our top choices being able to move a full 12" without losing any firepower, but this may not always be the case. Forunately for us, it just makes our choices that much easier this time.

Duality is a word that gets thrown around a lot by competitive and casual folks alike. (competitive usually because it is good list-building, and casual as a term to describe units approvable by WAAC jerks) I just want to point out that this sort of analysis is not about duality at all. You may often find that the most dualitious option is the one that ranks the highest, but in general this is about sheer efficiency. Not necessarily making sure that every warrior squad can deal with multiple threats, but just trying to determine how to get your squads the most toys for the smallest cost.

After doing this, I have decided that my squads will be 10Warriors+SC+Raider. At least until I can play some games with them and realize that mathhammer analyses don't work and it's actually a completely different "inferior" build that works the best. Ah well, I mostly do it for the enjoyment of the activity anyways*.


* - I mostly do mathhammer for the fun that I derrive (tee hee) from it, but I also think that it has some merit on the tabletop. Maybe not as much as some people believe, but certainly more than others. Comparing 2 units against each other in a vacuum is a silly task, but trying to analyze expected outputs for various wargear or loadout options can be a pretty reliable method for determining which you should use.**

CML vs AssCans on Wolf Guard, for example. Do some quick math and you'll see that against armour the AssCan just about always is the "better" option, but not by a huge amount. Same thing against troops. This may make you think the AssCan is better, but what it really shows you is that it isn't that much better for the significantly reduced range and the fact that it can't ID S4. Looking at the overall picture the numbers represent, and not just the numbers themselves, makes the CML the obvious choice. (oh, how I still do love AssCans though)

It is a dream of mine to play a game of 40k in which every decision is made strictly by statistical analysis. Every movement option, every shooting option, everything. Generally speaking, maintaining good target priority will accomplish essentially the same results, but I think it would be cool to be able to reduce everything to statistical calculations. Maybe build a computer program out of it. It may not be any good at real 40k, but I think I could make it work for Vassal. If I were much smarter than I am, and had much more time and/or ambition on my hands, that might make a pretty sweet thesis project.

** - Statistically, 9 harlequins with kisses will kill a full squad of marines without taking any casualties on the charge. (without hit and running they will kill 7 their turn, take no casualties, and then kill the remaining 3 in the SM's assault phase) This doesn't mean that a single squad of harlies can beat a whole army of space marines, but if I need 20 extra points for something else it might help to know that I can take 9 instead of 10 without really sacrificing very much.

Nearly There

It hasn't quite dawned on me yet, but in a couple of weeks I think I'm probably going to be in love with DE blasters.

It's like a tiny dark lance!

I keep writing them off as options because of the short range. My brain keeps telling me they suck because DE are paper compared to space marines, and the main reason meltagun squads do so well is because they have so much more survivability. Except that blasters have a significantly longer range* and they don't lose any effectiveness by being at the full length of that range.

It keeps ebbing and flowing. I just start to think blasters are the best shit since squeeze butter, and then my brain goes 'oh, nevermind, they're only ok again'.


* - 30 inches in a transport!!!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Proof The Internet Is Stupid

Oh my gadz! Melta and lance on a single weapon? OVERPOWERED! NERF! IMBA! LEAFBLOWER! METAGAME!

Newsflash: melta and lance combined are useful on exactly one vehicle in the game.

Normal transports only go up to AV12, so lance isn't necessary. Everything else tends to only have a front side greater than 12. The heat lance delivery systems are all fast enough that they can probably get side or rear shots reliably anyways, so again lance isn't really necessary.

Yes, it kills land raiders as well as a meltagun*, big whoop. The sky isn't falling. Your precious mahreens aren't being phased out. Get over yourself.


* - Quick! Fire up the math-0-mathic!

HIT is the chance to hit.
GNC is the chance to glance.
PEN is the chance to penetrate.**
XXX is the chance to do something useful on the damage table. (immob, wreck, explode)

S6 AP1 M/L S8 AP1 M S8 L
AV10 AV10 AV10
HIT: 0.666 0.666 0.666
GNC: 0.055 0.018 0.111
PEN: 0.555 0.648 0.444
XXX: 0.388 0.483 0.240
AV11 AV11 AV11
HIT: 0.666 0.666 0.666
GNC: 0.074 0.037 0.111
PEN: 0.481 0.611 0.333
XXX: 0.345 0.419 0.185
AV12 AV12 AV12
HIT: 0.666 0.666 0.666
GNC: 0.092 0.055 0.111
PEN: 0.388 0.555 0.222
XXX: 0.290 0.388 0.129
AV13 AV13 AV13
HIT: 0.666 0.666 0.666
GNC: 0.092 0.00740.111
PEN: 0.388 0.481 0.222
XXX: 0.290 0.345 0.129
AV14 AV14 AV14
HIT: 0.666 0.666 0.666
GNC: 0.092 0.092 0.111
PEN: 0.388 0.388 0.222
XXX: 0.290 0.290 0.129

** - That's what she said!

5++ Is The New Pink

Let's do some quick math to see how much difference a 5++ really makes for a raider's durability. I'm going to look at what I feel are the most important (and common) anti-armour weapons versus the different possible armour values for transports.

As previously, HIT is chance to hit, GNC is chance to glance, PEN is to penetrate, and XXX is chance to do something useful. (immob, wreck, explode are all what I consider "useful")

S7 (Autocannon)
  AV10 OT AV10 OT 5++ AV11 AV12 AV14
HIT: 0.666 0.666 0.666 0.666 0.666
GNC: 0.111 0.074 0.111 0.111 0.000
PEN: 0.333 0.222 0.222 0.111 0.000
XXX: 0.259 0.172 0.129 0.074 0.000
S8 (Krak Missile)
  AV10 OT AV10 OT 5++ AV11 AV12 AV14
HIT: 0.666 0.666 0.666 0.666 0.666
GNC: 0.111 0.074 0.111 0.111 0.111
PEN: 0.444 0.296 0.333 0.222 0.000
XXX: 0.333 0.222 0.185 0.129 0.018
S8 AP1 Melta (Meltagun)
  AV10 OT AV10 OT 5++ AV11 AV12 AV14
HIT: 0.666 0.666 0.666 0.666 0.666
GNC: 0.018 0.012 0.037 0.055 0.092
PEN: 0.648 0.432 0.611 0.555 0.388
XXX: 0.549 0.366 0.419 0.388 0.290
S9 (Lascannon)
  AV10 OT AV10 OT 5++ AV11 AV12 AV14
HIT: 0.666 0.666 0.666 0.666 0.666
GNC: 0.111 0.074 0.111 0.111 0.111
PEN: 0.555 0.370 0.444 0.333 0.111
XXX: 0.407 0.271 0.240 0.185 0.074
S4 (Boltgun)
  AV10 OT AV10 OT 5++ AV11 AV12 AV14
HIT: 0.666 0.666 0.666 0.666 0.666
GNC: 0.222 0.148 0.000 0.000 0.000
PEN: 0.000 0.000 0.000 0.000 0.000
XXX: 0.074 0.049 0.000 0.000 0.000

Well there's like a thousand lines of HTML that I hope translates well into blogger...

Here we have statistics for a number of weapon types against a number of different armour values. Each set only represents a single "bullet" from whichever weapon is being fired. I do this for all my statistics because it is more useful for me to know what chance a S7 shot has against XYZ, than specifically an autocannon. That way if you have mixed units with different numbers of shots but similar strengths, it is easier to calculate. (mostly, regular vs cyclone missile launchers are why I started doing this) So if you want to figure out how likely something specific is to damage a transport, just take the XXX value and multiply it by however many number of shots you have.*

Anyways, as we can see, that little 5++ really adds quite a bit of durability. As we can also see, being open topped really really hurts. In every case, it is harder to penetrate an AV10 5++ than it is an AV11, and it's almost as hard as AV12. So the chance to get to the damage table is a lot lower, but once you get there it is so much easier to do useful damage that it still ends up behind everything else. Also interesting is that the 5++ blows everything else out of the water when it comes to meltaguns. Land Raiders are still better, but otherwise nothing here beats it against the melta rule. Even with OT and AP1 stacking. Crazy.

We can also see that survivability against S4 increases by a factor of about 1.5. Instead of 1 in 13, there is about a 1 in 20 chance of something bad happening to you from a boltgun. Considering that's one full squad's worth of rapid firing, this still isn't very good, but it's much better than without the save.

So there we have it. With these results in mind, and the fact that the 5++ upgrade is reportedly pretty cheap, it's absolutely an auto-include on every raider you bring. If you need to shave some points, you might get away with taking them from your CC delivery raiders since with sails they're practically guaranteed to get there intact anyways. I plan to take them on everything I can though.


* - This is actually only mostly correct. I'd consider it close enough, but technically it isn't statistically accurate. Allow me to demonstrate:

S8 vs AV11
HIT: 0.666
GNC: 0.111
PEN: 0.333
XXX: 0.185

So if you have 2 it would be:

0.185 x 2 = 0.370 => 37% chance for a CML to do something useful.

But, actually, it should be:

1-((1-0.185)^2) = 0.335 => 33.5% chance for a CML to do something useful.

Multiplying the chance for 1 shot by 2 gets us pretty close, but it doesn't really work that way. If we have 2 shots, there are 4 possible outcomes: both do something, one does something, the other does something, neither do anything. By doing 1-0.185 we find the chance that one will do nothing, raising it to the power of 2 (which, btw, represents the number of shots, so if you had something that was S8 Heavy25 you'd raise it to the 25th power**) gives us the chance that 0 missiles out of 2 will do anything useful, and subtracting this value from 1 gives us the chance that something will happen. (if there is a 10% chance for nothing to happen, then there is obviously a 100-10=90% chance for something to happen, you see?) That chance for something to happen could be that both missiles do something, that one does, or that the other does. I don't really care about the specifics though, as long as something happens, I'm happy.

** - Note that this will never yield an answer greater than 1. That is because this statistic doesn't represent the number of expected useful effects but rather the chance to get a useful effect against a single target. If you're looking for the expected number of transports your entire army will pop in a turn, then multiplying 0.185 by the total number of missiles will give you that answer. For multiple shot units though, you still need to do the above or else your results will be skewed. Sure a CML can shoot 2 missiles, but they can only hit a single target!

12 long fang MLs and 5 WG CMLs will yield:
(0.185 x 12) + [5 x (1-(1-0.185)^2)] = 3.898 expected effected AV11 transports per turn

Compare this to:
0.185 x 22 = 4.07 expected effected AV11 transports per turn

See the difference? Either way it's about 4, but we can see that it is actually just under 4 instead of just over it. The reason it is lower is because it takes into account the times you "waste" a missile from your CML when the first one destroys the tank and the second one becomes redundant.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

DE: First Look

So, I haven't gotten any time with it yet, but preview copies of the codex are out and I've read a bunch of stuff and seen some pictures, etc. A lot of people have been talking about the book, and now I thought I'd take a crack at it.

I was a bit worried from what I had been hearing in the rumours. Expensive raiders, a dozen characters, mandrakes, wracks, grotesques. All these things that worried me because I don't like any of them. None of these things really fit into my shooty DE list very well, the long list of characters was making me nervous about having to pick one, and there wasn't all that much emphasis being put on taking dark lances in large numbers. Quite the contrary, in fact.

As it turns out, however, I was wrong to worry. While the HQs are still befuddling, there are really only a few that I am interested in, and there is just as much shooty death in this book than ever before. It is spread out a little bit differently, but it is definitely still in there.

As I said, I haven't gotten a chance to look at it as of this writing, but despite that, I'm going to run through the units that I think are pretty sweet in each FoC slot anyways.


In my opinion, these guys aren't very interesting. They shift the FoC around a bit, and have some decent wargear options. They're 1-3 per HQ slot, which is neat I guess. No, they just don't strike me as especially useful by themselves. The thing that makes them nearly an auto-include for me, however, is the fact they are 25 points naked and get a free pain token. I don't forsee my DE taking multiple HQ's from the real options, so paying 25 points to give a unit FNP at the start of the game is going to be priceless. I'll probably stick him with a Wych squad to give them FNP and to get them to Furious Charge that much quicker.

This guy is still a beast with a lot of great wargear options, and he's rather cheap for what you get too. He has some retinue options, but nobody is talking about them any and the general consensus seems to be that they aren't worth it. Not having seen them myself, I can't comment too much on that, but at the very least they don't appeal to me so I probably wouldn't take them anyways unless they were super imba. Like a retinue of Mephistons for a dozen points a piece or something.

Ok, maybe he's not worth it. Looking at his stats/cost, I don't honestly think he is. However, the recent inclination that he may be Arhra and the fact that his model is still totally badass, means that I may try to squeeze him in somehwere if I can.

Lady Malys
Basically an expensive Archon, but she gives you the ability to redeploy D3 of your units (including deciding to reserve or unreserve them) and she is immune to psychic powers. The immunity is nice since the DE don't seem to have much else in the way of psychic defense, but the redeploy is what makes her attractive to me. Sometimes it won't do much, but sometimes it will win you the game. Also, so few units have the ability to affect things after deployment, and I often find myself drawn to things that nobody else can do because I know that I won't ever face anyone that has anything that can compete.

Asdrubael Vect
Honestly, I hate this guy. Neither he nor his Dais are even remotely worth the points, in my opinion. However, he does let you sieze the initiative on a 4+. This can and will win games. And if it doesn't, it will at least make your opponent think twice about deploying aggresively even if they choose to go first.

Duke Sliscus
Alright now here is my favorite HQ. He doesn't do anything quite as game-changing as Vect or Malys, but he brings the most to the table for his points. Your skimmer platforms can deep strike, he comes with a shadow field, he gets 2+ to wound 5+ ignore armor saves in CC, he gives a single squad 3+ poison instead of 4+, and for combat drugs he lets you roll 2 dice and pick whichever outcome you prefer. He's 150, which isn't bad, but is still a bit more expensive than a relatively decked out Archon. Basically whether I field this guy or an Archon will come down to how many points I have left. With priority going to the Duke.


Everyone knows what these guys are all about since they are exactly the same as in the Eldar codex. That is actually sort of annoying to me. It's widely accepted that the Eldar codex is pretty bad. Not Necron bad, but everything is way too expensive and specialized. Making the Harlequins exactly the same in the DE codex means GW thinks they are perfectly balanced in their current incarnation. Maybe they are, I can't honestly say (they seem to be pretty balanced), but I don't think any units should ever stay exactly the same from one edition to the next. Maybe a slightly adjusted cost, maybe a few more/less/different options or rules or models (Solitaire, anyone?). Something. It seems incredibly unlikely to me that there is absolutely nothing with this unit that could be changed in 4 years of playtesting. Regardless of the annoyance, their points/abilities seem to actually be quite balanced and perfect for the DE codex. (perhaps they did this on purpose, now that I think about it) Basically, Harlequins used to be good, and they're still good. What's more than that, I finally get to field these incredible models. Yes please!

Incubi have gotten some mixed reviews. I am sort of on the fence with them. The models are probably my favorites of the new releases, but I still would rather field Harlequins. I may play around with some incubi+drazhar+haemo+raider+sails to see just how much stuff I can walk through before they all drop, but it really is an expensive unit and we all know how well deathstars do in 5th. It's something I'll keep in mind and will likely play around with for fun, but ultimately I'd rather bring Harlequins every time.

These are a type of unit that GW likes to put in the game that annoys me. They are really awesome, but don't go crazy or you won't have points for anything else. Sure, you could give them 2 heat lances and twice as many blasters, in a raider with super shieldsx2 and sails, running around wrecking shit, and maybe add a Dracon upgraded with whatever cool stuff you want to give him, and maybe grenades for everyone, and, and and, and we just spent like 500 points. So they can be dangerous to field, but if you keep them streamlined they are pretty cost efficient and very good. I think I will try to include 2 MSU'ish squads of these and then fill out the last elite with Harlequins.


Cheap, same stats as always, much better standard weapons, but not quite as many special/heavy choices as before. I can't yet decide how best to kit these out, but it would be silly not to field any. They're just too good for standard troops. Like, Grey Hunters good. I'm thinking the old reliable DL MSU in a raider might still be the best loadout, but the Venom (which I initially thought was stupid) might actually be a pretty decent option here too. Lower transport capacity and no dark lance may end up hurting it, but I think a small unit of warriors in a venom could be pretty cost effective. A bit singleminded, perhaps, but maybe not bad for objective snatching.

These guys (or girls, I suppose) don't seem quite as powerful as they once were, but they are still quite good. Combat drugs are still pretty sweet. Get a 6 (which is about a 30% chance with Sliscus) and stick a haemo with them and you start the game with furious charge, hot damn! Razorflails are very good as well. (and statistically the most likely of their weapons to kill anything the Wyches should be targeting) They aren't especially durable, nor are they a super killy death assault unit, but against any sort of non-CC light or medium infantry, they will clean house. Auto-include at least 1 unit, in my opinion. Most preferrably on something with sails.


Wowee! These guys seriously just became my favorite units in the game. Jump infantry, deep strike, a respectable 4+/6++, AWESOME standard guns, very cheap wargear options, and you get 2 weapon upgrades per 5 guys. For 22 points a piece? Holy cow. These guys are almost TH/SS termie cheap. I am in love with these units. Don't yet know how I'll run them, but I will definitely be fitting in as many as I can. I'm thinking either heat lances, or splinter cannons. Depending on whether I feel I need more anti-armour or more anti-infantry. Although, even with heat lances they'll still do a number on anything with a W stat. Gotta love that duality.


Voidraven Bomber
Ah this thing. So good. Naked, you get 2 S9 AP2 lances and a S9 AP2 lance large blast template droppable on anything you fly over. All for a very respectible price. You also get the options of taking up to 4 total from several different types of missiles. Most of them don't interest me, but they have their uses. ID on a failed W test, S7 AP- reroll to wound, 2+ poison blast, etc. Good stuff, but nothing I can't see myself living without. The only ones I would probably take would be the S7 AP- large blast. AP- kind of sucks, but with S7 and rr to wound, basically the only thing keeping a model alive will be its armor save. Like the scourges, if I find I need more anti-infantry, I might try to squeeze in a few of these missiles, but otherwise I think these will be naked.

Not immediately as alluring as the bomber, but it actually may not be a bad option. First of all, at 105 naked, the ravager is a bit cheaper. Secondly, with Sliscus, your Ravagers can deep strike. Sporting dark lances, this may not make a difference, but it is an option. Thirdly, 3 S8 lances are generally more useful against most things than 2 S9 lances.

2 S9 Lances 3 S8 Lances
AV10 AV10
XXX: 0.504 0.562
DEST: 0.336 0.381
AV11 AV11
XXX: 0.423 0.459
DEST: 0.296 0.297
AV12-13-14 AV12-13-14
XXX: 0.336 0.340
DEST: 0.209 0.206

XXX represents chance to do something useful to a vehicle (immob, wreck, explode) and DEST is the chance to wreck or explode. Usually I just look at chance to do something useful, but I thought that maybe if I looked at just destroying a vehicle the S9 might pull ahead because of the extra 1/6 chance to pen. As it turns out, it doesn't really make a difference. On top of these vehicle statistics, S8 will ID all the same stuff S9 will, and against S5 infantry 3 shots will kill more than 2. Even agaisnt T9, they both end up making .666 wounds in a turn. So basically, if all you use the bomber for is the lances, then you may be better off with a ravager that is statistically stronger at range and can deep strike if needed. The S9 large blast is awesome, potentially, but getting close enough to really make use of it may not be worth it. And they're both AV11. All this being said, I think I'm going to personally choose the bombers (as will, I suspect, most everyone else) because the stastical difference isn't that big and if the large blast comes in handy even once in a game, it will have paid for itself. The missiles might be useful as well. Also, they're just way cooler. No clue what I'll do for a model other than weep silently to myself, but I guess I'll deal with that when I get there.

So let's get a quick look at what a list might look like without points values or anything necessarily as specific as that. The specific numbers of units and configurations will depend on points costs and further codex analysis. This is really just to get an idea of what I may try to field; all squad sizes are dependent on final points tallies so I won't be listing any numbers other than where I already know what I want.


Harlequins + Kisses + Shadowseer
Trueborn + Blasters + DL's + Venom
Trueborn + Blasters + DL's + Venom

Wyches + Flails + Hekatrix + Nades + Agonizer + Raider + Sails
Wyches + Flails + Hekatrix + Nades + Agonizer + Raider + Sails
Warriors + Blaster + DL + Raider + Nightshields + 5++
Warriors + Blaster + DL + Raider + Nightshields + 5++
Warriors + Blaster + DL + Raider + Nightshields + 5++
Warriors + Blaster + DL + Raider + Nightshields + 5++

Scourge + Heat Lances
Scourge + Heat Lances
Scourge + Heat Lances

Bomber + S7 AP- Large Blast
Bomber + S7 AP- Large Blast
Bomber + S7 AP- Large Blast

Extra Notes:
I definitely want to include 1 haemonculus just for the free pain token. I may or may not give it any upgrades. I don't yet know what the points costs are like for these, so I can't comment on if they would be worth it.

I'm thinking I may put the trueborn guys in venoms, but I don't know. Venoms are cheap, but they aren't really cheap enough for what they offer. What I mean is, the cost difference between a venom and a similarly equipped raider is less than the cost of a DL. Splinter cannons and TL-splinter rifles are awesome, but is it worth a DL? The transport capacity doesn't bother me since I don't plan to take any more TB than I really have to and 5 (or 6) is plenty. I will probably have to see how the list functions and then make my decision based on if I need more anti-infantry or more anti-armour. I do like the idea of blasting open a transport with my troops, and then ruining the guys inside with their ride though.

The wyches look expensive. They are potentially a huge points sink for not necessarily being that incredible. They're intended as more of a mop-up/non-CC light/medium infantry killing unit. With the haemo, they'll start the game with FNP and hopefully upgrade to FC quickly, which is good. If it is cheaper/better to do so, I might be able to forgo the Hekatrix with nades and get them on the haemonculus. I'll have to see about that when the book comes out for reals. (and/or when I can get a look at it)

I don't know about special weapons on my warriors because I don't really want them getting that close. These guys are for mid/backfield support. 30" (12 move + 18 range) is an awful lot though. I'm also not sure about the nightshields. I know I want the 5++, but this alone puts them somewhere between AV11 and AV12 for durability, so I don't know if I will also be needing the extra defenses. If I need the points, I can take them out.

Scourges have some excellent anti-infantry potential, but I think their real strength will be in heat lances. HL really are the strongest anti-armour the DE get, and I think using these guys as a pretty respectable delivery system for them is going to be key. I will play around with unit size and see just how many I need. I hate to turn them into a meltacide unit, but HL are just so good. I would love nothing more than to load these guys up with cannons and play the infantry-melting game from range. If I find I have enough AA already, perhaps I will try that out. At the very least, if I bring, say, 5 of them with 2 HL's that is still 9 poisoned shots and 2 S8 shots out to 30". I really wish they were jetpacks instead of jump, but they're still pretty respectable, if you ask me.

Bombers are good. Don't think I'll be taking 3 of them though, probably 2. Maybe 3 though. I don't know. Perhaps I'll do either 3 naked, or 2 with those S7 missiles. Again, it depends on how well I find I do with armour and infantry and where I need the extra help.

The above list would probably cost some crazy amount of points; certainly over 3000. I am obvioulsy not going to field it like that. It was just an excercise to narrow down the FoC slots into the things that I want. I'll probably cut off a wych and a warrior squad, not bring max harlequins, bring scourges in 5s, and possibly only 2 units of them. Hopefully that will let me get in around 2000 and still keep most of the stuff that I want.

That's my first instinctual guess at what I'm going to want. There are a lot more units in the book, but most of them don't seem especially good or they are units I'm not interested in. I don't care if grotesques are the SSF2T Akumas of 40k*, I don't have any desire to play them.

The army has a lot of really strong anti-infantry (like, really strong) but it's all dedicated anti-infantry (SX doesn't hurt tanks) so any list will have to bring a good amount of anti-armour as well. Figuring out just where to take which type of weaponry is going to be the key to making them shine. (do I take lances on my trueborn in a venom? or do I take cannons on them in a raider?) It's going to take some playtesting, but hopefully I can make them work.


* - Suppose it would be more appropriate to say O.Sagats of 40k. Akuma is banned in every SSF2T game ever (even random non-event arcade games, basically if you ever pick Akuma you get punched in the junk irlz) so if grotesques were the Akuma's of 40k, I wouldn't be fielding them anyways.