Friday, January 23, 2009

40K and the Assault

"The bayonet has always been the weapon of the brave and the chief tool of victory" - Napoleon Bonaparte

Napoleon Bonaparte is my absolute favorite historical figure of all time. Of course the biggest reason behind this is his ability to apply his strategies to destroy his enemies over and over again on the field of battle. Most people when they hear Napoleon think of his defeat at Waterloo, but don't think about how he completely out generaled the finest leaders Europe had to offer battle after battle. At Waterloo I think Napoleon rolled way too many 1's, it happens to all of us sometimes.

Napoleon's winning strategy tended to look like this...

1) - Out maneuver your opponent so that the majority of your army is fighting a minority of your enemies army.

2) - Soften up your enemy with long range firepower.

3) - Engage your enemy with just about everything you have to further soften them up.

4) - Assault with your elites and watch your enemy run for the hills.

The point is, shooting with your big guns and your gun line does a lot, but nothing ends a battle quite like some good assaulting.

Here is why assaulting in 40K is the grand daddy of ways to defeat your opponent...

1) - Your enemy is always in range!

2) - When you charge you get an extra attack!

3) - Causing a single wound can destroy a unit with a failed leadership test and a sweeping advance!

4) - You get to attack during both yours and your opponent's turns!

5) - You get to move D6 inches after you destroy your opponent, even if it's not your turn!

When you assault you should be throwing 2-3 times the number of points as the enemy unit costs at them. The point is NOT to sit there turn after turn hacking away at each other. The point is to hit them and hit them hard to force a leadership test they will fail, so that just a few wounds results in that unit no longer existing, in just one round of combat! Having a multiple of your units in the combat ensures you win the combat, and that you also have a good chance sweeping advancing the losers.

That's all for now, don't forget to fix bayonets!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Super Simple 'Method 216'

Do not worry about your problems with mathematics, I assure you mine are far greater. - Albert Einstein

Today I'm going to explain to you a super simple method I've developed for quickly calculating how many of something you can expect to kill by shooting or close combat. I've named it 'Method 216' for reasons that will become very obvious to you when I'm done explaining how it works.

Before we get into 'Method 216', let's go over some very basic things about probability. Very often we are going to need to know how many sides of a D6 will give us a successful roll of the dice. This is quite easy to figure out. Let's say a Space Marine is shooting his bolter at a Necron warrior 18" away. The Space Marine needs a 3+ on a D6 in order to score a hit, so there are 4 sides of the D6 that will result in a successful roll, because a 3, 4, 5, or 6 will result in a hit. So if I were to ask you how many sides of a D6 will result in a successful roll in the previous example, you would say 4. The same would be true for rolling to wound, if a bolter with a S4 will wound a Necron warrior with a T4 on a 4+ then you would say 3 sides of a D6 will result in a successful roll.

Take note that in the case of your opponent making an armor / cover save it's a little different because a successful roll for your opponent is a failure for you. So because the Necron warrior needs a 3+ to make his armor save, then a 1 or a 2 will result in a successful dice roll for you. So if asked how many sides of a D6 will result in a successful dice roll for you when the Necron warrior rolls for his save, you would say 2.

Now then here is how the 'Method 216' works...

(H * W * S) / 216 = average number of kills

H = # of sides on a D6 that will result in a hit

W = # of sides on a D6 that will result in a wound

S = # of sides on a D6 that will result in your opponent failing his armor / cover save

Let's go over a few examples...

1) Space marine firing at a Necron warrior 18" away.

SM needs a 3+ to hit, a 4+ to wound, and Necron warrior needs a 3+ to save.

3+ to hit = 4 sides of a D6 to hit

4+ to wound = 3 sides of a D6 to wound

3+ armor save = 2 sides of a D6 to kill

Plug in the numbers and you get (4 * 3 * 2) / 216 = 0.111111

So the SM on average should kill a Necron warrior about 11% of the time, if you have a unit of 5 marines firing, then just multiply the .111111 by 5 to get .555555. Or in other words the 5 marines can expect to kill .555 Necrons per round of shooting.

2) 3 Necron Heavy Destroyers firing at a squad of Space Marines.

Necrons need a 3+ to hit, a 2+ to wound, and Space Marine does not get a save (S9 weapon vs T4).

3+ to hit = 4 sides of a D6 to hit

2+ to wound = 5 sides of a D6 to wound

no save = 6 sides of a D6 to kill

Plug in the numbers and you get (4 * 5 * 6) / 216 = .556

So each Heavy Destroyer should kill a SM 55.6% of the time, or as a squadron of 3, they should kill .556 * 3 = 1.667 Space Marines per round of shooting.

3) 12 Necron warriors shooting at a unit of Terminators less than 12" away.

Necrons need 3+ to hit, 4+ to wound, and Terminators need a 2+ to save. Necrons get double number of shots since they are within rapid fire range.

3+ to hit = 4 sides of a D6 to hit

4+ to wound = 3 sides of a D6 to wound

2+ armor save = 1 side of a D6 to kill

Plug in the numbers and you get (4 * 3 * 1) / 216 = .0555

24 shots * .0555 = 1.33 Terminators per round of shooting

Once you have done this a dozen or so times it should become very easy, and you should be able to figure it out during a game quickly using the calculator that comes with your cell phone.

That's it for today, hope this helps you crush your foes in battle, let me know if you have any questions. In the future I'll post some more advanced Mathhammer concepts.

- By the way, the number 216 that you divide by comes from the fact that to kill someone three dice rolls have to take place, hit, wound, and save. So 6*6*6 = 216. Chaos players might prefer to call this 'Method 666'.

What is Mathhammer?

Probability is the very guide of life. - Cicero

Mathhammer is using mathematics and probability to give yourself an advantage over your opponent in Warhammer and Warhammer 40K. The Warhammer games are full of numbers and probability, which makes understanding the math of the game a very powerful tool.

By learning Mathhammer you can apply simple methods to assist you in making rational decisions before, during and after a game.

Here are just some examples of what Mathhammer can be used for...
- Deciding which units / weapons to take against certain opponents (should I take Necron destroyers or heavy destroyers against Space Marines?)
- Making decisions during the game to maximize shooting and close combat (should I shoot at that unit or charge it?)
- Working out if something that happened during the game was probable or not (should my landraider be afraid of a single scarab base because this game it was destroyed by one?)

This is what Mathhammer is NOT!!!
- A way to predict exactly what will happen
- A tool that will make all your decisions for you
- An actual hammer you can hit things with

In my next post I'll explain my super simple 'Method 216', a quick and easy method that will be the base of the majority of your Mathhammer calculations. It will take just a few minutes to learn even if you suck at math and can be used to calculate most things in just a few seconds using a cell phone's calculator.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


Hello everyone and welcome to Mathhammer 4 Morons!

First I'd like to thank my brother Alex for creating the 'Mathhammer 4 Morons' logo, I think he did a fantastic job and as always I am very jealous of his artistic ability.

At the end of December I decided I wanted to get back into wargaming, specifically 40K. Being as I'm a computer programmer by day I couldn't help but think that an army of souless mechanical Necrons would suit me the best. So New Years Eve I purchased a Necron boxed army and have been busy ever since putting everything together, thus ending my 10 year hiatus from the hobby. I forgot how much work this was!

Although I hope to cover everything Warhammer with my blog, I'll probally be focusing on Mathhammer content.

Check back soon for a very simple tutorial on Mathhammer and some updates on my Necron army.