Thursday, July 11, 2019

40k Addressing List Problems

One of the things I most like about wargaming is the problem solving aspect.

Earlier in the year I basepainted my Harlequins so I could take them to play in the doubles at Adepticon. I had a few practice games and found that they weren't really clicking.

The key reason for this was that the damage expectations I had for my infantry shooting were not meeting what I saw on the table.

One of my key philosophies when building a list is to keep things simple. Some people like to have a tool for every job....."cough" Biting Blade "cough"....just in case but the method I use is to build a unit, limiting variability, and then adapt tactics to maximise potential.

Each of my 3 Harlequin Troupes was kitted out the same - 2x Caress & Fusion Pistol, 3x Blade & Shuriken Pistol. Essays have been written online as to whether the Caress is better than the Kiss and the answer is, of course, it depends. Following my KISS model (no pun intended), I decided on using only one and that was the Caress.

So armed with 3 identical Troupes I ventured onto the table......and was disappointed 😢

My squads never did what they were supposed. You think two Fusions would wreak havoc....but it doesn't.

So I fell back on Mathhammer to find out why? If you check out the banner above you'll see a link to a Math Calculator for 40k. This was written by Jack Dunn. For those young ones among you, Jack of the similar surname terrorized local 40k players between 2001 and 2011. His last competitive games was the 2011 Masters where he came out of an 18 month 40k hiatus to win the event beating Charlie St. Clair 20-0 en route (even then Venom Spam was a thing). And he knows maths....and numbers....and things.

Shooting at a T5-7 target with a 3+ Save, two Fusion Pistols have a 50% chance of doing 3.98 wounds (3.42).

Given the target a 4++ and the 50% chance drops to 1.99 wounds (2.79)

So the numbers are good, yeah? No 4++ 4 wounds likely, 4++ then 2 wounds likely....I can live with that. But what are those numbers in the brackets? That is the standard deviation expressed in wounds....and standard deviation = variability.

These results are telling me that I don't have to move too far from average to have a really good result or a really bad result (zero wounds). Essentially it is saying when you have two Fusion Pistols it really is little more than a crap shoot.

So how do I insulate myself from that? Add more Fusion Pistols. By doubling the number to 4 Fusion in each unit, I double the expected wounds....seems right.

No 4++ then 50% chance of doing 3.95 wounds
4++ then 50% chance of doing 3.98 wounds.

However the big change is in the standard deviations (read variability). These are high than for 2 Fusions but not double - 3.95 and 4.83 respectively. While still variable, in relation to the number of expected wounds that variability has decreased markedly (relative to two Fusion).

Who would have thought? Roll more dice get less variability in's mathematics people!

But this increased certainty is great in wargaming when you are relying on units to do a specific job. I now have far greater confidence that I will get the outcome I want and/or a bad result won't be disastrous.

Armed with this I modified my list by adding two more Fusions to each Troupe. Across the army the cost was a Starweaver jetbike (itself very variable with a weapon that had D6 shots).

Since making the changes I have noticed far more certainty around the impact of their shooting which allows me to tailor strategy accordingly.

Far less Sad Panda face.


  1. You never know when your Slann might need his biting blade!