Monday, August 23, 2010

40K Basics: How to Make Stuff Work

With school starting back up and various personal life things taking up time, I haven't gotten any painting done on the Scythiak, so here's another musing post, this time about How to Make Stuff Work.  I doubt it will make the Earth move for any of you vets, but maybe for some newer gamers it will help turn a light on.

Beatin' the odds.  This won't be a hard-core mathhammer post, just a basic reminder that there are a few different ways to make probability work for you.

So you want to do something in a 40K game.  How to make it work with those little cubes with the pips on them?

Lots of Dice - Throw more dice, and you're more likely to succeed.  Get more shots or throw more CC attacks, and you'll get more hits.  Get more hits, and you'll get more wounds.  Neat, huh?  Some armies operate on this principle, throwing a ton of attacks at you and hoping something sticks. 

The flip side of this is true too.  For things where failure is bad, the more you can make your opponent pick up dice, the better off you are.  If you force enough saves, pinning tests, morale tests, etc. they'll fail some of them.  If you're relying on Lots of Dice, you're trying to overload the enemy and let aggregate probability carry the day for you. 

Good Dice - The more likely your roll is, umm...the more likely it is.  Saves that are 2+, morale checks on Ld 10, shooting with BS 5 - these things are likely to succeed, so you can pick up the dice with some level of confidence.  This is one of the main reasons Marine armies can be so good - whenever they do something, they have a good chance of success.  Shooting something?  Hit on 3+.  Got hit?  Save on 3+. 

You may not have as many shots, but the ones you have are more likely to hit, and to wound.  You don't have as many guys, but they're more likely to survive.

Re-rolls - Hey, a do-over!  Re-rolls are important tools, and feed into the good dice method.  The more re-rolls you can get, the better off you are.  Twin-linking, master-crafting, lightning claws, and so on.  The game is full of them.  They can make Lots of Dice into Lots of Pretty Good Dice, or make Good Dice into Great Dice.  Take them when you can, and remember to use them!

No Rolls - Take dice out of the equation.  Make your stuff 100% successful and their stuff 0% successful.  What does a Deffrolla need to roll to hit?  Nothin'.  What does a flamer need to roll to hit?  Nothin'.  What kind of armor save does he get against that lascannon wound?  None.  Reducing your chance of failure and the enemy's chance of success to zero makes things easier.  Every time you have to roll a die there's a chance of failure; every time the other guy gets to roll he has a chance to succeed - take those chances out of the picture when you can.

Normally we think about these sorts of things in relation to the straight combat applications - hitting, wounding, saving.  But don't forget other parts of the game, like movement.  Is it worth taking dozer blades on those tanks to get re-rolls in terrain?  Is Ghazghkull coming along, to make that Waaagh roll a sure thing?  And of course there's a lot of No Roll things in movement already; basic movement won't involve dice at all.  Take that surety away from your opponent when you can.  Make him have to check to immobilize his vehicles to get where he wants to be.  Make him have to roll for difficult terrain to assault you. 

Whichever method your army uses, keep in mind how to Make your Stuff Work and their Stuff Not Work.


  1. Great post.

    Re-rolls are king. If you can ever take something that allows re-rolls then do so. There's a guy at the LGS who plays Eldar with two Farseers, one of them usually Eldrad. You have not witnessed the power of re-rolls until you've faced off against it. The first time I played against him I had a whole new appreciation for re-rolls.

  2. I am a big fan of lots and lots of dice. Volume of Fire or Plethora of Punches, I am not really picky as long as I get to roll a whole lot of dice.

    Due to the game mechanics and the fact that most things require you to make two or three rolls to get rid of one guy, the more dice you roll the better. Example: Have to hit the vehicle, then penetrate the vehicle, then score a 5 or 6 to destroy it. More dice, more chances of success

  3. Good Post.
    Another advantage of lots of dice is that it's more predictable. You're less likely to have bad luck ruin things totally for you. Although at the same time you're also less likely to have a set of really awesome rolls to steamroller something. But that predictability is pretty darn handy.

  4. @Thor - yep, and especially icky when stacked, like BT termies rerolling hits, then rerolling wounds with their Lightning Claws...

    @Mags/Heinz - yep, I like lots of dice, gives you a good chance for an OK result and a small chance of a fantastic result.

    The multiple rolls to generate an effect is one of the reasons I'm not a big fan of many psychic powers, esp. psychic shooting attacks - make psychic test, overcome psychic defense if any, roll to hit, roll to wound, they roll save...nah. To interest me psychic powers need to be able to do something I can't get otherwise. If it's just a fancy psychic heavy bolter, I'll pass.


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