Wednesday, November 7, 2012

MathHammer Part 1. Power Weapons

          I have been working on this Excel probability calculator for a while now and decided to share it with all of you! It is incredibly useful when building army lists or determining the best way to deal with a certain unit. In this post I show how to use the calculator to determine which close combat weapon is the most cost effective for a Chosen champion. Download link, and more below...

      Here is the link to download cpyke's MathHammer Calculator v1.1. You will need Microsoft Excel, or another program that can read .xlsx files. So far it can calculate probabilities for shooting infantry and vehicles, as well as assaulting infantry and vehicles. It also has a deep strike risk calculator which definitely helps in placing your deep strikers. I will be adding more features to this as I go such as rending, daemon weapons, and template weapons as well as improving what I have now. And if you think of something that should be added, or see something that is wrong let me know and I'll try to add it in later versions.

Example: Which close combat weapon should I use?
      In honor of the newly released codex, my example will be Chaos Space Marines fighting the forces of the Imperium.
       So let's say we are trying to see which close combat weapon to take for your Chosen Champion to give him the best chances of winning the challenge he is bound to get in. First you plug in the stats for your champion in the green area, then the stats for the enemy you are expecting to face in the blue and that's it!
     The purple boxes show your chances of hitting, wounding, and getting through the enemy's armour. The red box shows the number of wounds you can expect to make on average. And the final, and maybe one of the most useful bits of information that this gives is the kill point ratio. Basically this number is how many points are you spending to wound the enemy. So if this number is 1.0, then for every point your model costs, you are killing 1 of theirs.
       To answer the question of which power weapon is best I summarized the results in this little table which shows the kill point ratio of each weapon against three different enemies. Each row is color coded with green being the most cost effective, and red being the least. So as you can see the power axe seems to come up on top versus Terminators, Space marines, and an Imperial Guard veteran! The power sword and the twin lightning claws are shown to be some of the worst. The reason that the power sword gets a higher score than the twin lightning claws is the cost of the claws is double that of the sword. It kills better, but costs much more.
     There are a few limitations that should be noted. First is that initiative is not taken into account here. So the axe and power fist have a chance of getting killed before they even hit. There is a way to figure the effect that initiative has, but it would be a bit more complicated and you would have to know exactly what enemy you will be fighting, and what weapons they will be using. Since this calculator is for list building, and not determining the outcomes of battles I left that out. Also if you are going up against a multi-wound character then using a power fist to get an insta-kill could be much more cost effective than the axe. It really just depends on what you are trying to accomplish.

     I was planning to add all of my examples in one post, but I underestimated how long it would be. So be watching for the next post in this series where we will look at the best choice for anti-air in a Chaos army. Thanks for reading, and any comments are greatly appreciated!



  1. What about the single lightning claw? Mathhammer, they're equal to a sword in killing power (and better with VotLW or on the charge) by this program, its still poorer than the axe vs TEQ, but equal to the axe vs Marines or guardman (and arguably better, as you don't stand the risk of dying before swinging)


    1. Thanks for pointing that out! I have updated the post to include the single lightning claw. It still doesn't get as high of a score as the axe, but that is just because this is the kill point ratio. If you look at the first picture, the twin LCs do an average of 1.1 wounds but the axe only does 1.0. All the kill point ratio is saying is that killing 0.1 more marines isn't really worth an extra 15 points. But as you mentioned, there is still the initiative to take into account. From the numbers I would say that I still prefer the axe. But that is the beauty of this game, there is no one right choice. It all depends on your opponent, your playing style, and your preferences. Thanks for the comment!

  2. Hi cspyke!
    I have a problem with the power mace having worse probabilities of killing terminators and space marines then a chainsword...when they both don't negate armor but Mace should have +2 strength so better probabilities.

    On a side note these probabilities also don't take into account the initiative step...since most of those bearing power weapons will be sergeants they more then likely will be fighting challenges and when a better probability is most often a win, it might not be if you don't have time to use it.
    Anyways just one of the things I wanted to point out in an otherwise great article.

    1. Okay, so it is slightly confusing in the post, but I wasn't saying that the chainsword has a higher probability of wounding a terminator. What it means is that the chainsword is more cost efficient than the maul. A seargant with a power maul has a probability of 0.21 to kill a terminator and a sergeant with a chainsword has a probability of 0.13. The numbers in the table are just saying that you kill more terminators for the points with the chainsword than the maul. Basically, why spend an extra 15 points to only increase your chances of killing a terminator by 8%? That's not what power mauls are for.

      And you are absolutely right. Initiative would completely dictate the effectiveness of each of these weapons. This was just showing the raw killing power assuming you were able to attack. But the rest is up to you as the player to determine where and when each should be used. You can add initiative into the probabilities, but that would require you to know the exact unit composition of the enemy you are fighting and how they are positioned in assault. For example If I was in an assault with marines and my sergeant had an axe I would have my regular marines in base contact so they would get to hit and any wounds would be allocated to them allowing my sergeant to attack at his initiative. Since there are way too many variables to take into account for initiative I left that out of this.

      Thanks for commenting!

  3. Wonderful post. Thank you for taking the time. How do you figure out the effectiveness of chainsword for the point cost? Wouldn't that cause division by zero?

    1. No, It is the points cost of the marine carrying the weapon. So it is 18 points for a chosen with a chainsword. Glad you enjoyed it and thanks for reading!


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