Saturday, 20 September 2014

German Squad makeup during the war.


So chaps, I'm sure you all get the idea here. I write stuff, you believe stuff blindly, then use stuff in games as fact only to have someone far brighter than me show you why I was wrong. that's history, right? Pretty much. I make no guarantee that any of this stuff can't be proven wrong, especially with the minor powers of each side. In this post, I will look at how a (at the very least, especially with the smaller armies) regular infantry section  would be deployed at full strength given no casualties or manpower shortages. I plan to include equipment and the roles of individuals within the squads. Among other things, including a few notes on how effectively this worked. Since the German's had a number of different units in the action during the war, I'll try to cover most of them. 

The Heer Gruppe (Early War) 

Squad Strength: 
9 men

Squad Leader (Feldwebel or Unterfeldewebel, usually the latter.)
Deputy Squad Leader (Unteroffizer, usually.)

3 MP40s
5 Kar98 Rifles
1 MG34

Both squad leaders would have an MP40, as well as a third man. 5 men would be armed with rifles, the fifth being the MG34's loader.

The Heer Gruppe was relatively effective as a fighting unit and this often meant that most German units were built off of it. The Standard Waffen SS squad for example, had very similar makeup to the standard infantry, only having access to slightly better equipment and generally more experienced soldiers. 

The Grenadier Gruppe (Late War)
From what I've read, the Grenadier Gruppe was simply a renaming of the earlier Heer gruppe, the way the Bolt Action Sourcebook describes it, an efford to improve the esprit de corps of the Wehrmacht. While minor (official) equipment improvements did occur, such as Assault rifles started to be used in some number, G43 semi-automatic rifles floated around the units, nothing major changed to impact the organisational structure of German infantry gruppes. Of  course, bolt action rather conveniently uses the grenadier gruppe as the dividing line between units having access to panzerfausts and assault rifles or not. 

Basically, Add "Panzerfausts and STG44s" onto the above list - Since the STG44 was a marriage of rifle and sub machine gun, it is not unreasonable that some squad may conceivably have access to enough assault rifles to equip every man - a rare occurrence, to say the least! If only a small number should have STG44s, the men with Sub machineguns should get them first - so, the NCO and the Deputy, then the third bloke with an MP40.

Fallschirmjager Squads

Fallschirmjager squads were armed differently to the Heer as they were paratroops. This is mirrored in the example of American Paratroops, who used shorter rifles and lighter anti-tank weaponry. Realistically, every piece of differing equipment given to the paratrooper was designed to be suitable for him to make the drop most effectively. Fallschirmjager squads still made use of every kind of weapon that was available to the average heer gruppe, even having certain equipment that could be considered better.

Pioneer Squads

Pioneers squads were usually the same size as a german  Heer squads. Their equipment differed quite substantially, having all manner of exotic and fantastic weapons available to them. Given their role as combat engineers, Pioneers would have a higher propensity to being armed with explosives, flamethrowers and Sub machine guns. 

Panzergrenadiers Gruppe

Squad Size
12 men

Squad Leader 
Deputy Squad Leader

1 MP40
7 Kar98 Rifles
2 MG34's
2 Lugers

This standard loadout was used for the Average Panzergrenadier squad. Note that, because Panzergrenadiers weren't usually intended for assault or breakthrough operations (that, they left to the armour), so would really be used to protect the Flanks of the Tanks and screen certain zones too dangerous for the Tanks to enter. As a result, most combat situations didn't call for effective close assault proficiency. This is why there is a higher proportion of rifles when compared to the standard Heer squad. Later in the war, Panzergrenadiers became something of a mobile reserve force. By this time, they would be armed in a manner much closer to the methods of the standard Heer squad.

Late War irregularities 

As the war dragged on, the Germans started to sacrifice quality and quantity within their squads. A squad that once advanced as a twelve man unit now moved as a 7 man unit, and a unit of Luftwaffe infantry were made up of mechanics and technicians pressed into service desperately because of manpower shortages. Some units - such as the Waffen SS Florian Geyer - the cavalry, literally, were defeated to a man and were not available for the fall of Berlin. However, The Armies of Germany theatre selectors do a good job of making these units unavailable at the right time - for example, it stops you taking assault rifles at the invasion of Poland! 


These aren't all the units that germany had differing organisations for - unfortunately, I don't have the time or resources to research much more in depth than I did for this article. However, I'm always happy to answer any questions presented to me. Feel free to leave me a comment, critique or question, or if you feel like you'd prefer to speak to me personally, please e-mail 

Monday, 15 September 2014

Bolt Action 101: The Very Basics:


So, you've decided to make a change. 40k's feeling stale, or maybe you just want to play something that's grounded in reality. Maybe, you just want to play something that doesn't force you to get wailed on before you get a chance to play. Whatever the story, I hope you come to Bolt Action looking for fun and not for balance. While BA is at its very core very balanced, there are certain tools, and certain units which are unreasonably priced. Certain weapons do an unreasonable amount of hurt when they hit, but everyone can take them.  

The good news is that Bolt action will be familiar to the new player who's played 40k, while still playing differently enough to feel vital and enjoyable. To put it in analogy, Imagine Bolt Action like changing the flavour of your cereal choice; It's familiar while being still being fresh. 

The Order System 

The Order System is only the second biggest part of Bolt action, but it's clearly the more necessary to discuss first up. In bolt Action, each player has a pool of 'Order Dice'. These are usually specially printed dice that are used to indicate the action that unit has taken (if and when it takes that action.) While any dice that are the same size and style will do, using the actual order dice is very useful - it's also important that they differ in colour, as we'll get to later. 

Now, let's have a look at the way Activating units works. No player "Goes first" as such in bolt action - one player takes the first action. An Action is literally giving orders to a unit. Anything from ordering it to shit its pants and hit the deck to firing on a number of targets and giving coordinates for an artillery or aerial strike. Who gets to take the first action is defined by putting all dice into a cup (or pouch) and having a player draw a dice from the bag. if that dice is his colour, he takes an action, with the opposite being true. While this can lead long streaks of one player getting multiple turns, but this usually means the other player will get more turns. Finally, this also has the awesome effect of allowing players to do quick fractional math to get the odds of them going next or in future turns - something I tend to really enjoy. The only downside of this system is that it gives an advantage to the player who runs multiple units, rather than allowing units to take larger units and bigger tanks. 

Finally, let's look at what can be done during a player's action. There are 6 potential orders - convenient, given the number of dice sides that exist. These six are: Advance Ambush, Down, Fire, Rally, Run, 

  • Avance lets your unit move a short distance, doing neither at full effectiveness. Some units cannot move and fire even when Advancing, others can fire effectively on the move. 
  • Ambush lets your unit forgo acting to instead interrupt an enemy unit's action - useful for keeping units pinned in place, or forcing them to move into range when used in conjunction with things that fire indirectly (see: Shooting)
  • Down is like going to ground in 40k - it gives the player a slight cover bonus, and allows them to recover one pinning marker. (read: Pinning) It's also used to represent units that have forgone actions.
  • Fire: Exactly what it sounds like. Lets the soldier fire at full effectiveness. This is the order for units that can't move and shoot. 
  • Rally: This interesting order allows the player to forgo an action to increase the squad's morale. This one isn't the most used, and when you want it to go off it probably won't but it is the most tactically overlooked order of the six. 
  • Run: This lets units move at double the rate they would advance at. Of course, they can't fire while doing this. Run is also used to represent charging.
Note that every unit only gets the one action per turn (with some notable exceptions) so don't expect a unit to move on activation then fire another - they do all their action to moment you put that order dice down. 


Now We'll look at Bolt Action's (excellent) take on pinning. Before you read this, throw out everything you understand about pinning in 40k. To put it politely, 40k pretends pinning is an occasional thing. This game sees it as the centre of combat, where it belongs.

Let's start at the beginning. Because you need to know it to proceed, units have a morale value dependent on their quality. Experienced soldiers have a value of 10, Regular, trained soldiers that have seen little or some combat have a value of 9. Irregular (inexperienced) or hastily trained soldiers have a value of 8. Every time a unit is given an order, they must roll a morale check (the same as 40k's leadership checks), passing this automatically (unless excepted) if they have no pinning markers on them. These are used in the same way as 40k, although you should think of a unit with morale 10 as being about morale 8 in 40k. Even putting a single pinning marker on a unit is enough to force down their chance of acting that turn quite significantly - Even the most veteran of infantry with one pin are reduced to only completing an order 5/6 times they try to act. IF they fail this test, they go 'down' and do nothing, getting a small bonus for it. Finally, it's worth noting two further things: A soldier who has his morale reduced to 0 or lower (after all modifiers)  is automatically defeated and removed from play, meaning you can destroy a squad without killing a man. The second is that even should a unit that is pinned pass a morale check, if they still have pin markers on them they will not shoot as effectively as they could have otherwise. 

The reverse of this is that a unit that acts out an order automatically loses a single pin marker - more if they rally. This means putting multiple pin markers on units becomes imperative. With three pin markers on it, a unit will be rendered basically ineffective. Stay out of assault range (read: combat) and that unit will probably not act effectively. Just remember, every turn they go down they drop a pin marker, meaning that you should continue to put a bit of firepower on dangerous squads so they're out for the whole game, or at least ineffective for the whole game. 


Now, I know what you're thinking. "So we've looked at orders and at pinning, okay! Let's get to the meat of this game: killing stuff!" Unfortunately, you're wrong if you're thinking this. While it is possible to annihilate your opponent, rarely is it the aim of the game (y'know, like real wars?) and playing even two games of Bolt Action you will realise this very quickly. The first thing to know about Shooting in Bolt Action is the system, so I will start there. After that, the effects will be discussed and we will finish with what you should aim to accomplish by shooting at something.

The first thing is that All units technically hit on a 3+. In a perfect world, where no modifiers apply every unit would hit 67% of the time. Of course, modifiers exist. Most detract from your chance to hit - pinning, experience, long range, cover and movement all have a negative impact on shooting, with there only being one universal bonus and only one unit that gets a bonus outside of that. On Average, a rifle team will be hitting on 5's, so this should be the baseline when deciding how well a squad should perform when shooting (6's for inexperienced units) It's worth noting that a unit can still hit if he would have to hit on better than a 6+, this becomes the astronomically small 6+/6+ - 2.7% chance, and you can hit on these odds for to hit rolls that would equate to 7, 8 or 9+, so once you must enter the realm of 6+/6+, don't be afraid of shoving yourself even further up that tree. After units have hit, they need to wound. This is done in a sense familiar to 40k. When shooting at infantry, 3's are needed to wound inexperienced soldiers, 4's for regulars and 5's veterans. 6's, and better to wound values exist, but these are saved for special units and vehicles so I won't comment on them here. Unlike 40k, weapons don't have a strength value, instead, certain weapons (heavy weapons - anything capable of scratching light armour at the very least) wound targets on slightly to extremely well compared to small arms (which use the natural to wound values, being unable to harm 7+ or better).

While all units can potentially take a casualty or damage from a hit from a weapon, any unit hit by a weapon will take a pin (not always the case with armour, but this is a different story) marker regardless of whether they take a casualty/damage or not. This means putting three units hitting on 5's rolling at least 3 dice each should put 3 pins on a target, which is ideal. If you do no damage but put 3 pins on a unit, you've done enough for a turn. If you do manage to reduce a squad's size, aim to reduce it below 50%, or to one man for special weapon teams. upon being reduced to these sizes, squads become less efficient and less likely to pass morale checks. You also take morale checks more often, some of which can result in the unit being destroyed without taking further casualties.

To summarise, shooting should not be used to completely destroy units - put 2 at the least, 4 at the most pins on a target and move on. It will be shut down, or at least, ineffective for the next turn. Remember to service each of your opponents important units with at least 2-3 pins and you will shut them down for the whole game. 


Combat in 40k is extremely cut and thrust. Units are usually defeated at the end of a combat and for the most part, they die immediately. The same is true in bolt action, although bolt action refuses to allow players the satisfaction of simply tying up another unit. With the exception of vehicular combat, combats are over in one action, period. 

In this section we will look at how a unit is given the order and completes a charge. One orders a unit to charge by giving the run order. The unit can then charge up to 12" (more for cavalry - yes, there are polish lancers and Florian Geyer Cavalry!) or 6" if moving through rough terrain. Unless the defender is defending a wall or similar barrier, the charger always strikes first. Of course, the defender can take a number of actions, assuming it has not already acted that turn (and the charging unit is not too close!), and assuming it passes its order test, the unit may fire on the target in the same way as overwatch in 40k. Except, that this shooting is done without the dumb "snap shots" rules and treats this shooting attack as just another fire order. All normal modifiers apply. Assuming the squad is in range and is not destroyed by overwatch, it charges into base contact and then the combat is fought.

Now, how to kill soldiers in combat: Every model from the attacking side rolls a single dice (more in certain situations). If this dice scores well enough to wound the target - remember, 3+ for inexperienced, 4+ for regulars and 5+ for veterans. There is no roll to hit. Casualties are removed and (unless fighting over a barrier) don't get to fight back. The player who takes more casualties is the loser, and unless he has a special rule  that states otherwise, is destroyed. If the two sides tie, they re-fight to combat until one side wins - there are no ongoing combats.

There is one interesting rule that is intertwined with the combat rules, and it becomes the central reason that non-beatstick (hint: they exist) squads might charge into combat. This is the rule that states that a unit that is in combat loses all of its pins. If you have a full or high strength unit, and need it to shake its pins, then you may charge it to another unit (preferably one it will beat in combat) and remove all of its pin markers as a result. This does remove the target's pin markers too, meaning that you have to be sure you'll win if charging a unit that has pins on it. 

Also, charging simply is more effective at causing casualties. While it does ensure you take some casualties in return, you reduce your chance of whiffing by the number of to hit rolls you would've failed - pin markers don't matter in combat, and there are no to hit rolls so you're just relying on quantity and quality in that fight.

Similarities to 40k 

So, everyone already knows Bolt Action is made by the same guys who wrote 40k and its supplemental work. There's Cavatore, Priestly and many more fine writers from the old days. 40k shares with bolt action the 12" mentality, the D6 centrality and the points system. Realistically, the similarities end there. There are next to no saves in bolt action, there are modifiers, combat is different and more extreme, and the game is usually smaller. It's just altogether very tactical. Unlike 40k, you shouldn't be looking for the turn 4 table army, but at the army that can hold its shit while breaking its opponents. Sure, Bolt action is a little broken. The Finnish seem to get every rule from here to the sun, and flamethrowers are god mode, and buildings can only be destroyed by high explosives. Armour has real survivability and its price is extreme to cover this fact. Where a Rhino is about two and a half the price of a space marine, a Hanomag - the quintessential halftrack - is 9 times the price of a regular panzergrenadier - and it can't even shoot unless there's someone there manning the thing. 

Different ideologies also exist in bolt action. Units aren't forced to shoot their anti tank weapons to the exclusion of their rifles, and tanks can target multiple units if they have multiple weapons, bullets don't stop flying because they hit the edge of their range, because this is not the Call of Duty of Wargaming. These all add up to make bolt action just a little fresher than 40k. While there  are still "that's dumb" moments, most of the rules seem like moves in the right direction when compared to 40k. Some things are frustrating and confusing, especially with pricing - for example, a StuG III costs 230 points, while a Pz IV costs 235. For 5 points, a Pz IV has a turret mounted gun of the same caliber, (huge, since tanks can't pivot on the spot normally), and a coaxial MMG. While the Pz. IV Can't fire both the Coax and the main gun at the same time, having access to the coax means that it can put more pins on targets more reliably than shooting its main gun. Another example of this is the two Multiple rocket Launcher half-track variants available to the Germans. The Panzerwerfer is 115 points, 130 with an MMG. For this, it's 7+ with a 360 degree multiple rocket launcher (read on later to understand how these work.) The Stuka Zu Fuss, however, is exactly the same - 130 points for a 7+ chassis with an MMG and MRL. However, in this case the MRL is limited to the front arc. It's small, but it's unaccounted for and that frustrates me. 


The missions for Bolt Action are frustrating. They aren't really designed not to be developed upon and are more of a template than something you can play a pickup game with. As such, there's only one mission suitable for pickup games, and that one doesn't suit all army's at least reasonably, severly hurting certain army builds. This means tournaments have to make their own missions to allow players to get a fair game out of it, and can be limiting in playing with people you aren't mates with. 

Armour and the Focus

I've left Armour until the last, and coupled it with the Focus for a good reason. It wasn't and isn't the focus of this entry, or of bolt action. The humble foot soldier will do most of your work, and pins are the focus of this game.

Anyway, there are a couple notes on tanks. First of all all kinds of vehicles are represented, with different armour values. Soft skinned vehicles, Jeeps and trucks are wounded by any weapon - rifles, anti-tank guns and flamethrowers - on a 6+ (before modifiers). Lightly armoured vehicles like early tanks, armoured cars and half tracks have an armour value of 7+, so need to be penned (like 40k). As an example, a LAT (Light Anti-tank gun) has a 4+ to pen, so needs a 3 to do superficial damage (a glance) and a 4 to do a pen. (Again, familiar to 40k.) A Light tank is an 8+, and this goes up to 11+ - 11+ are Super heavy tanks and are saved for the likes of the King Tiger and other Extremely heavily armored tanks.

Part of what makes tanks so necessarily expensive is that they live forever. Not literally, of course, but you would be getting very unlucky to lose a 9+ vehicle before turn 4 an 11+ tank shouldn't die unless it gets assaulted or you screw up pretty badly. This makes tanks seem worthwhile, if a little expensive, in bolt action. Remember they won't ever be the focus of your game, so you shouldn't load up on them.

So, what is the focus then? Is it the heavy weapons teams, the artillery, the challenge caddy officers that totally must exist? No. The focus is the grunts. Where it belongs. An army that consists of 12 order dice, 10 infantry squads of 8 men and 2 officers (about 1,100 points) is solid. An army of 40 men with some good reinforcement is solid. There is no ultimate build, although there is efficiency. Regardless of the list's design, troops will be important.  

Final Statement

Bolt action is a move in the right direction. By right, I mean that it is a good, sideways swap from 40k. You will still feel like you're playing something you've played before, but you won't ever feel like you're playing something as hopelessly broken as 40k. I make no illusions that this game has no holes. IT has them. You can exploit them. But you won't win just because you exploit them. Another nice thing I might add, before I leave, is that one can comfortably expect about 30 (plastic) miniatures for the same price as 10 tactical marines. Since about 60 infantry models is enough to make any army up to about 1,250 points, you can be playing a full-size game after dropping as little as $200 - 80 AUD for books and maybe $120 AUD for 2 boxes and some extras.

I invite anyone to try bolt action, and I would love to hear from you if you have any questions. Over the next few months I plan on releasing a series of posts focusing on the game's many facets, then going through the units of each army. Posts like this one would be regularly produced on Mondays, while a 'history resource' - literally something to allow players to write lists that are more historically charged - will be produced on a Friday. These will be kept in a page for easy access like my 40k codex reviews and should hopefully allow people to read enough to have a holistic understanding of bolt action.

As I Said, I welcome comments, criticism, questions and requests. I relish in it, in fact. Please feel free to leave a comment below, or if you don't wish to comment publicly feel free to contact me at To find out more about Bolt Action, click here

Saturday, 23 August 2014

A movement away from 40k


So pretty much any of my adherents will notice this blog has not been maintained until now. And, I'm going to apologise for that. I know how much my ramblings meant to the many of you. I don't feel like I can continue to make genuinely modern and aware posts about 40k, and I am burnt out painting the stuff. Here's what to expect in the future.

What does this mean for the Painted Dice

I'm down, but not out of wargaming. I am trying to get into Bolt action, having brought a few of my friends into the game. I will be making posts for bolt action similar to the ones seen for 40k. I'll have a focus on the history, and a focus on the game itself. My posts will review the books in a similar manner to the books of 40k I've already done, albeit with different ratings. 

The Future

There will still be 40k, but I can't honestly say I will ever dedicate myself so feverently to 40k as I have at the start of the year and before that. Do expect a return to regular posting, however. I hope nobody minds this change of scenery, and I hope that I might be able to intrigue a few of you into trying something other than the 40k you're so used to. Bolt action is a bright future for me, and as a history lover it promises to bring me as much excitement as 40k once did. I hope, for the future of my interest in wargames, I Can get back some of what I had. I don't know if it's in my hands though.

The future of 40k

Too much has been said about this topic up to date, so I'm limiting myself to four sentences. 

1. 40k is turning ever more into a game about building the most powerful, expensive armies possible. 
2. The second is that the speed of releases means those same releases are losing their flare. 
3. The last Space wolves release sealed the deal for me; space santa claus can keep his plastic miniatures. 
4. I can only hope it improves from here, but I am doubtful.

You will still hear about my exploits playing $40k down the drain, but they will be much less numerous, and I will be much less talkative on that subject. Still, don't hesitate to contact me with questions, opinions and problems. I am more than happy to help any reader and I will do my best to get in touch quickly at any time. To contact me, please email

Thankyou folks, and for those who only tune in for 40k, Goodbye for now. 

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

7th Edition and Me.


So this is my first post for july, I figured it best to do it on the tuesday rather than the monday, since I'm not going to recoup my lost adherence for june. So, we'll pretend this book didn't come out a month or two ago, and that it's brand new. Okay? Okay.

My Understanding

As an idea of what I'm going to be talking about, I don't personally think of this as "Seventh Edition". I think of it as "Six Point Seven Five Edition". You're probably rolling your eyes, thinking "God, you pretentious twit, just say 6.5 like everyone else." But, I can give good reason for why I say 6.75 and not 6.5. The first is that 7th edition has a few, huge, radical changes that completely morph the way we build and play our armies. So, I look at 6.75 with hopeful eyes, and expect big things in the future. 

Big Changes for 7th

One of the big changes in sixth was the inclusion of fortifications in the FOC. Now, we have LoW making an appearance. I'm probably never going to personally accept Lords of War in regular games - I realise that GW is doing a damn fine job of shoving them down my throat - they almost succeeded with Ghazkull Thraka (Did I mention I'm starting orks? No? Well, My guard army's almost done), but I along with my gaming group have pretty much stonewalled the idea of playing LoW in regular play. I'm happy to play them above 2k; but I very rarely venture outside of 1999+1 range. 

The other biggest two changes have to be the Maelstrom of War Missions and the related Cards, as well as the psychic phase. The Maelstrom of war missions are a little imbalanced, and force certain armies to sit for turns without objectives to complete - unless you houserule them, which is something one should not have to do. Once houseruled, these MoW objectives become a lot of fun and potentially make sure that armies have to be just that little more than 4 units and a deathstar. Of course MoW was meant for fun games, not competitive play. I don't think anyone disagrees with that. 

The Psychic phase I'm iffy about. I hate Daemonology with a passion, and feel that the Chaotic Daemonology is a bird to the screams for more balance within the ranks of the daemons codex, with the +1 to cover save being the cherry on top to 0 point pink horror squads. If it's not abused (which is altogether far too easy to do), though, it's a relatively balanced system for which we have to give props; It made lower rung psykers like weirdboyz more reliable and tempting while limiting the effectiveness of farseers and ubercasters like Severin Loth.   

Smaller Changes

Of course, this edition also had slight rules changes implemented, such as the very correct change to vector striking and FMC abilities. The Grounding check changes are cold comfort to Blood Thirsters and Khorneate daemon princes who got no bonuses from being FMC. Also, the changes to Moving through cover on the charge were nice. I'm iffy about terrain dataslates, I'm probably gonna stick to the old terrain rules unless warhamz tournaments start getting used to the idea.

The other nice change was that MCs cannot be joined by characters, effectively ending O'vesa star for good. Too bad they forgot to end screamerstar. Oh, they also removed the power of buff ICs like shadowsun; no more 2+ cover on my farsight bomb. 

As we wait on baited breath

No Changes introduced to really improve combat aside from the MTC bonus which only furthered Beast's power as the only real charging unit in the game. They could've given Transports the ability to let their contents charge if they didn't move that turn, but I guess we can't have everything, can we? 

The Result

I guess the Result can be simply put as happiness. Most of the changes were good, and there was a lot of fleshing out done, maybe not enough. They also need to limit us a little more, but they're clearly relying on wargamers not being jerks to do that job for them. Smart move, huh?

Also, Fuck the 1/2 of the page layouts. That really Smarts, G-dub.

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

A lull before the storms


hi guys, I haven't been able to post for a long while. I do have a lot of hobby stuff to do; yet with school and 7th ed coming out, I haven't really been able to think tactically about 40k for a while now.
I've a short lull before my one final, and then I have about a month off - the more time to spam this page with thoughts, right? 

Anyway, I just felt I should leave a line so people know what's up - here's what's coming up over the next few weeks. 

The future 

Looking forward, you should be seeing a return to regular posts. I hope to cover a number of topics, but I will intend to take a look at how all my active lists have changed from sixth to seventh, with a special focus on the farsight bomb - who arguably took the biggest nerfs while being able to come back kicking. 

Tactics posts are shaping up to be thus, starting at the latest the week of the 23rd. 

- 7th edition and me. 
- General thoughts on seventh for my area meta. 
- The Psychic Phase and daemonology
- The Farsight Bomb in 7th.
- My Daemon Rush in 7th.
- My guard list and 7th.

Painting should focus on my up and coming escallation league army - an 1850 point guard list which focuses on everything getting stealth or stealth equivalent - +1 to cover saves, My shorthand list is this:

1 Vanquisher
2 Exterminators


3 Vets squads

4 Chimeras


5 Sentinels

Outgoing, and apologies

that's all I really have time for today. I havebig plans for the future, and I hope you can be a part of this progress. 

Feel free to drop a line with any questions you have about 7th edition, from a tactics, rules or personal opinion perspective - while I don't have much time for posts, I have enough time to answer any questions I'm asked!

Friday, 16 May 2014

Painting Exhibitions: Flesh Hounds of Khorne


My Flesh hounds are made of the fantasy chaos warhound kit - I didn't want to use dire wolves because some of my friends already used them for khymerae. Hopefully these will work. Here's the first ten. 

The List

Bloodthirster of Khorne with Exalted Reward and Greater Reward

Herald of Khorne with Exalted Reward on Juggernaut
2 Heralds of Khorne with Greater and lesser reward, exalted Locus on Juggernaut

6 Bloodcrushers with Banner of Blood and Blood Hunter with a lesser reward. 

2 squads of 10 Bloodletters of Khorne, one with bloodreaper

2 squads of 15 Flesh Hounds of Khorne 

Flesh Hounds of Fantasy Chaos Warhounds

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Leman Russ Battletanks: A comparison


You knew this was coming, I knew this was coming, let's just try to get through this.

On a more serious note, Once 7th drops, I WILL be doing a review of everyone's favourite spehs army, but only when I have a better idea of what seventh will mean for the army. Once that has dropped, I may also finally do a true review of the tau codex, although I'm not sure if that will be worthwhile at that time.

What kind of tank?

This is a hard one. Any leman russ will constitute a substantial portion of your list, and taking 2-3 of them for a tank commander usually means they'll form the centrepiece of your army. What I suggest is either build your army around the tanks, or build your army less about 180~200 points per tank you'll wanna field. When you've built your army, check what it needs and build your lemons to that role.

The Tank Types


The Annihilator is not in the actual codex, but it is worth a mention. The Annihilator packs a twin-linked lascannon. Yeah. But, it weighs in at a meagre 130 points, meaning if you need 'dedicated anti-tank' but don't have the 35 points + extra tank it takes to get a vanquisher with a commander, the Annihilator is your man. Also works reasonably well against monsters and heavy infantry. If you wanna run them, the best way to do so is to run two of them alongside Pask (in a vanquisher), with lascannon and multi-melta sponsons. You're packing 12 S8/9 shots with an AP of 1 or 2, making that a deadly unit for enemy heavy infantry and most armour. Of course, being relatively cheap armour, they also perform roving alone. 


The Demolisher cannon is a S10AP2 Large blast mounted on an AV14/13/11 shell. While at first knick, having AV14/13 should mean that the demolisher doesn't work too poorly, you really feel its short range with only 6" movements. On the plus side, until its cannon or the chassis is gone. Because the Demolisher is only as dangerous as its main cannon, I don't suggest sponsons, however, one could get away with heavy bolter sponsons for making the trip to the enemy line - having a little more S5 packed in there for so few points could do well. The Demolisher works surprisingly well when tripled up in a tank commander - note I don't suggest Pask because he doesn't really do very much for the demolisher here. The reason for this is the flatout move that the tank commander can order. This allows the Demolisher to increase his movement speed by a pessimistic average of 150%, meaning he can make ground in four turns instead of one. Of course, doing this, you're dropping 3 S10AP2 blasts and that's about it, and it cost you a fortune to do so. 

The Demolisher cannon itself is decptive. Being S10AP2 it seems like a pinnacle anti-tank weapon, but this is not true. While it will knock the living bejesus out of almost any armour it comes into contact with, it can only do at most, 1 hull point. Being a large blast, people have this misconception that it will knock seven or 8 targets, but this simply isn't true. If your opponent is  that afraid of the S10AP2 and it gets the chance to shoot, they will spread out to limit casualty potential. Still, The Demolisher remains a fantastic tool when fighting buildings, and an even better tool for knocking out T4/5. Unfortunately for the demolisher, it is fantastic VS. T4/5, making it hard to utilise it Vs. T6. T6 means it can only do at most, one wound and this simply isn't enough.  


The Eradicator is a S6AP4 Large Blast that ignores cover mounted on an AV14/13/10 shell, it is the cheapest AV14 in the game. The Eradicator is very, very comparable to the similar wyvern. The Wyvern does more damage for its points, against the same targets, but the Eradicator is a harder takedown. This means you can reliably expect 5 or so blasts per game, whereas you can only expect three salvos at the very most. The Eradicator works well with heavy bolters, and one is usually enough. being a large blast, a tank commander is wasteful, so I suggest that they remain as lone operators. The Eradicator has a place in 40k, but it's true that it would be better suited to a different army. 


The Exterminator packs a quad-gun without skyfire, and is reasonably cheap at 130 points. S7 makes for a versatile main cannon, when comboed with heavy bolters it becomes a reliable anti-light tank and infantry machine. Its decent range gives it an edge over the punisher against all the punisher's targets, and the price difference seals this difference. Exterminatorss work well as bodyguards for better tanks like Vanquishers, but can also perform alone. Having a squad of more than two exterminators is probably wasteful. 

S7 is deceptive. The internet has a raging hardon for this mediocre statline, but S7 Struggles to perform in many roles. People profess its strength against AV12, but this simply isn't the case. While I believe it can be pressed into that role, the S7 profile works best against AV11 and T6 or worse. This makes heavy bolters ideal for it. Also worth noting is that this overzealous faith in S7AP4 permeates many player's minds, meaning most opponents will shoot at exterminators very readily. 


The Executioner packs 3 plasma cannons, and is overpriced at 185 points to maximise its tools. Because of this huge price and the executioner's potency at killing itself, running 3 with Pask is pretty much the only way to run them. Preferred enemy means they should only lose a hull point every five or so turns. You basically have to invest in a squadron of these guys to make them effective. For that reason, I don't feel they're worth wasting half your army on. 


The MBT is relatively cheap and packs a S8AP3 large blast. This has better hitting range than the demolisher, but otherwise suffers from the same problems the demolisher does. It's also not nearly as versatile or worthwhile. If you don't like exterminators and don't mind shelling out, two of these make a half (note half) decent bodyguard. Unless the ordnance typing is dropped for heavy, the battle cannon will never be worth the time. 


The Punisher Shares some of the Exterminator's weakness. It suffers from people praying at its alter, while usually its short range and relatively weak weaponry limit its effectiveness. You're paying 140 points for a semi-dangerous weapon that knocks very light infantry around for a throw, then gets knocked out.

The punisher is most effective when manned by Pask. This works fantastically well when run alongside a pair of bodyguards that aren't packing twin-linked main cannons. I suggest bringing 3 punishers for Pask. Run the squad up the field until he hits home, then order his squad to split fire. He can deal with almost any armour you throw at him - he should reasonably do 1.72~5.08 hull points to a land raider or rather AV14, averaging 3.4 hull points when shooting. Anything less than AV14, and any Toughness character he should shred a wound or two with ease, averaging 1.7 to 5.2 wounds when fighting anything better than T6. While the punisher is certainly versatile in Pasks' hands, don't overestimate how effective it is. Let your opponent make that mistake for you.


The Vanquisher is Armoured Superiority in a name. Its main cannon can go toe to toe with an orbital bombardment for final damage, and can make him an extremely dangerous opponent for any enemy armour. About the only thing it lacks in terms of anti-vehicle is skyfire/interceptor. Of course, the vanquisher is not without its faults. It needs to be well supported, and works best on a tank commander which necessitates it being fielded alongside a squadron. Fielding many more than one of them begins to become inefficient as it's usually enough to get the job done at close range with a pair of multi-meltas. 3 Vanquishers works without a commander, but it definitely needs to have prescience behind it. With prescience, the pack of vanquishers can potentially flatten even superheavies with relative ease. Also worth noting is if taken with a commander, the vanquisher is shot by a character, and thus has precision shots on 6's. Remember this, as instant-deathing specific targets can be massive. 

Personal favourite:

My Personal favourite from a gameplay, aesthetic and fluff perspective will always be the vanquisher. IT packs a tonne of heat and really embodies what a tank-hunter should be. I know it's not the best tanke, but I can't help myself when it comes to saying nice things about it. 

Monday, 12 May 2014

Painting Exhibitions: Bloodcrushers


Here's the pack of the Bloodcrushers of Khorne, Sans one. Note the names - they're named after mine and my friend's pets! Strika is converted to carry an axe, which identifies him as the lesser rewarded squad leader.

The List

Bloodthirster of Khorne with Exalted Reward and Greater Reward

Herald of Khorne with Exalted Reward on Juggernaut
2 Heralds of Khorne with Greater and lesser reward, exalted Locus on Juggernaut

6 Bloodcrushers with Banner of Blood and Blood Hunter with a lesser reward. 

2 squads of 10 Bloodletters of Khorne, one with bloodreaper

2 squads of 15 Flesh Hounds of Khorne 

Blood Crushers of Khorne

Friday, 9 May 2014

Painting Exhibitions: Grimoire of True Names Herald


This is the grimoire dude. He's kept cheap so he's not a hard target, and he usually rides with the crushers along with karanak hoping that they don't run into too many AP2 saves. 

The List

Bloodthirster of Khorne with Exalted Reward and Greater Reward

Herald of Khorne with Exalted Reward on Juggernaut
2 Heralds of Khorne with Greater and lesser reward, exalted Locus on Juggernaut

6 Bloodcrushers with Banner of Blood and Blood Hunter with a lesser reward. 

2 squads of 10 Bloodletters of Khorne, one with bloodreaper

2 squads of 15 Flesh Hounds of Khorne 

Exalted Herald

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Anecdotal Evidence and its place in 40k.


If any of you are reading from Dakkadakka, you might remember I had a signature saying for a long time. For those of you unfamiliar, it is this:
Anecdotal evidence is fallacious at best, don't use it to prove points that aren't true.
In this post, I'll be looking at what constitutes a tactics argument using anecdotal evidence. I'll show you where a persuasive anecdote is acceptable, and I'll also go into the differences between an anecdote and an observation. First, let's define some parameters.

What's an Anecdote? 

In essence, an anecdote is a short story. In 40k, we use anecdotes to display experiences we've had while playing the game. Technically, these can range from a story about what you used to do with your buddies in fourth edition all the way to that GT winning army you played against. But, here, I'm looking at anecdotes used as proof for tactics and units in 40k.

What kind of Anecdotes am I talking about? 

I made a thread on dakkadakka, I noticed that a lot of people truly failed to grasp exactly what kind of anecdotes I was looking for. I got everything from poorly worded arguments about rules to anecdotes about poorly worded arguments about rules. Here are some examples of what we're not looking at here.

MarsNZ wrote: Tacticals are bad because Riptides exist
This argument may or may not be true, the fact is that it doesn't matter here - it's an argument, or an anecdote about an argument and thus, not what we're looking for.

Here're some examples of what I was looking for:

MIKEtheMERCILESS wrote: Back in 2nd edition, a friend wanted to play a quick skirmish game against me - Marines vs. Orks. 
For this, completely straight faced, he proposed that he field terminators (remember - 3+ on 2D6!) against gretchin in a 1:1 ratio. After explaining how shockingly unbalanced and 1-sided this fight would be - he proceeded to explain how actually it's a completely fair matchup "because he saw a gretchin kill a terminator in a game".
He was not joking. 
It's hard for me to interpret this one because I did not play in 2nd edition. From what I can see however, this would still be a horrid matchup given that it takes 36 shots from gretchin to down a single terminator in sixth edition, 10 gretchin wouldn't stand a chance against ten terminators.

Kain wrote: Adrenal Gland termagants are totally great against vehicles because I charged them at leman russes once and they exploded.
This one's probably a fifth-edition quip. It's an awful argument to use because it's simply impossible - you could never glance a leman russ so often it exploded, and if you did you were packing AP1 - not something termagants have ever had access to.


Let me preface this quickly, Jancoran, if you're reading this, I love you. You seem like you'd make a top opponent because you'd be a challenge. Not because you're tactically sound or you run hard lists, but because you seem to get so goddamn lucky that you're always rolling those sixes. 

The "King of unorthodox" himself, Only unit in the tau codex specifically designed not to deal damage man. Otherwise known as, Jancoran. Jancoran has a blog as well, if you're not so interested in cold hard facts and more interested in fun stories of embellished battle reports, he may be worth a look.

This quote is from last year and focuses on the Tau Codex. Namely, Jancoran makes an argument for using Pathfinders as a damage dealing unit. You can read the whole thread here.  The unit being referred to in this thread seems to be 2 units 7 pathfinders with 3 rail rifles and the three drones they have access to - the pulse accelerator (+6" range), Recon (burst cannon) and grav-inhibitor drones (-D3 charge range I think.)

Let's recap, this unit is putting out 12 S5AP5 shots at a range of 24", and 6 S6AP1 shots at a range of 15". The unit has nothing else. The quote has been edited to keep it short, but feel free to complain if you feel I missed something pertinent to the argument.

Math Hammer away friends.
As for yesterdays festivities, here are a few Pathfinder hi-lites for you.
1st Game, vs dual Storm Raven list with Dual Baal Predators and Dual Fragiosos: 
This guy supposedly has 2 AV12 Stormravens, 2 AV13 Baal Predators and 2 AV13 Furioso Dreadnoughts.
However, BECAUSE of the Pathfinder threat (after all, I have two of them), he literally conceded most of the field to me and even retreated most of his stuff away from me. He simply could not win if he walked into that.
If we're reading this right, 2 Storm ravens are so afraid of 12 S6AP1 shots (that can only glance, remember) that they did not cover the ground to come into range of 2 units of pathfinders. As a mathematical reference, 12 S6AP1 shots without skyfire has a 5.4% chance of doing a single glance to a storm raven.

Close game, but it was most definitely the Pathfinders he feared. He had two units that could have pushed on me, and he just begged off as the game was too close to risk anything unarmored. 
I believe he has six, actually. I don't really get why this BA player was so afraid of the pathfinders - nothing he brought to the table is even scraped by them.

The impact of those two units was pretty impressive there. They ended up KILLING his Fragioso, which the Kroot would not have done. They also killed an entire squad of Marines and a Drop pod!
So, he has to be shooting on rear armour for the first one. Which, sure, S6 will be sufficient to knock out AV10, but then that's just poor placement on the opponents part. This is an excellent example of a bad anecdote - his opponent fucked up, so he jumped on the chance he was given. This does not make the unit good. Again, how do rail rifles glance a drop pod to death? They do a glance per turn on average.

DarkStrider never even got out of his devilfish for this game until the last round when I got out to take side potshots at a Baal Predator, but that was just to try and tie it up and he managed tyo avoid that with FOUR cover saves! It was, needless to say, very close. 
Ignoring the devilfish, and darkstrider hiding in a devilfish, so this Baal was running assault cannons? Does it not strike anyone else that Strider is T3 facing up against S6? He should not be in the line of fire for that.
In this game, a single Pathfinder squad killed a Whirlwind, a Tactical squad and a devastator squad plus 1 Terminator.
He rolls extremely well, or he's leaving out certain notes to this reports.
The Pathfinders killed two Gaunt units, and a Tervigon. 
So... 36 shots in one turn killed potentially 66 wounds over the course of 6 turns?  I'll stop ragging on Jancoran now. He's a frustrating poster, but he doesn't deserve to be attacked. Jancoran, if this post upsets you, feel free to let me know either through e-mail or through dakka and I will remove your part in it. 

Anecdote Vs Observation 

A thoughtful dakkadakka poster who's asked to remain anonymous questioned my distrust of anecdotes. He brought up a few notes that really resonated as things I needed to mention, so I've done so.

... But I DID have a question about why you're so against the use of anecdotal evidence when it comes to tactics. It seems to me like direct observations would be a little more reliable than straight mathhammer, where the numbers exist in a vacuum with no context.
My questioner has a fantastic point here. Math in a vacuum is meaningless to us, as it doesn't draw on real game experience. For example, a flamer is more likely to wound a marine than a bolter is mathematically speaking. In practice however, a flamer will be used maybe 2 or 3 turns in a game if you're lucky, whereas a bolter will be used from turn three. Also, you'll have more bolters.
... I have given given a lot of thought between using a Land Raider Crusader or Redeemer. Whenever I run it as a redeemer, my opponents prioritize it above everything else, even if they've played against the list I'm using before, and the redeemer/crusader switch is the ONLY change. I've observed this on more than one occasion, and my working hypothesis is that people consider a redeemer a greater threat than a crusader. Mathammer aside. THAT anecdote certainly has a place in any discussion between Redeemers and Crusaders. 
 Again, an excellent point. The redeemer can chew through a tactical squad in a single spurt, but it needs to get close. IF your opponent lets it get close, it's their own fault. Worth noting is that popping it up close is not always an option; it could spill out terminators or something equivalent. Because of this, the redeemer becomes a very dangerous threat and it needs to be dealt with quickly.

Another example is the Autocannon... I've never seen them perform well. 4-man autocannon Chaos Marine Teams, Rifleman dreadnoughts, IG HWTs, every time I see them deployed they never fail to fail to perform. People keep insisting that the raw mathematics show autocannons to be the superior weapon, but the fact that I've never seen it work out that way is and should be a viable argument. 
I strain with agreeing with this point for the reasons the poster puts forwards. I don't believe autocannons perform poorly because they perform poorly in experience (which they have), I can actually prove mathematically that they should perform poorly, or at the very least, mediocrely. That math is for another day, however.
 You just seem to be opposed to using direct observation in favour of abstract math, and I wanted to urge you not to let the poor behaviour of a couple of hooligans turn you against legitimate tool(s) of tactical debate (in relation to 40k at least). 
 I think I'm misinterpreted as hating anecdotes. I simply hate anecdotes that have to do with damage output. Lets get back to autocannons quickly. Saying 12 BS4 TL S7AP4 shots (or, 3 Rifleman dreads) shooting AV12 should do 3.52 hull points is as bad as saying "I once saw 3 Rifleman dreadnoughts take down a hellhound, so autocannons are godly against AV12." Standard deviation is not something I'm planning on going in depth in this post, but it is within 1 standard deviation (so, about 2/3 of results) that you'll do anywhere from 1.95 through to 5.1 hull points reasonably. The question you gotta ask is, is 2 hull points worth 345 points?

Now let's have a look at what my inquisitive friend talked about most importantly, observations.

Using Anecdotes Effectively in arguments

So there are two and a half times when Anecdotes make for effective arguments. The First is in relation to weapons or tools that can't be put to mathematical proof at all. The second is when making observations on things that happen during the course of a game. The half time is when used in conjunction with mathematics to prove an argument.

The first instance can be seen in the Tau Support System the VRT, the signature system the NSJ. The VRT provides the invaluable hit and run to any large deathstar, usually being mounted on an extremely sturdy platform like a support suit commander. This tool is 5 points and will always prove its worth, but you can't objectively say "it'll make its points back", since it's not a damage dealing upgrade. Here, an anecdote such as "The VRT once saved my farsight bomb from being crunched in assault for a second turn; the break away from combat basically won me the game in that instance" can very well be used in a tactics argument, despite its status as an anecdote. IT makes an excellent support when looking at the importance of hit and run in a tau unit.

The NSJ can be quantified as making its points back, since it's a psuedo-damage-dealing upgrade. I've already shown the value of the NSJ, so I won't bring it up further here. Still, an anecdote can be very persuasive in this instance.

The second can be seen in the above poster's comments - The redeemer dies quicker than the crusader, lending observation being more useful than math in a vacuum - the redeemer may do more damage when it hits home, but it's less likely to hit home.

The final half is a story for another day. IF you can mesh a mathematics argument with an anecdote that soundly supports it, you've got it made. An example can be seen in shadowsun's fusion blasters - she has a 1/216 chance effectively of not penning AV10 with one fusion blaster. REasonably, she'll blow up AV10 2/3 times if it's open topped and isn't a venom.

There's an example of this in a game I had with a dark-eldar friend. Everytime I shot a fusion blaster at him, I knocked a raider out. This happened so often that I've come to rely on it - in fact, it's a sad day when I don't at least knock a weapon off a raider when I shoot it.


Well, that's all the words I can put to screen for tonight. I'll try to end it soon. I'm glad I could get so much support from the community on dakkadakka, and I had a wonderful discussion going there. Hopefully, this post will encourage people to think a little before making tactics posts in future.

Friday, 2 May 2014

Painting Exhibitions: Bloodletters


20 Blood letters to deepstrike onto the board and then remove almost immediately. God, T3 with a 5++ sucks sometimes. 

The List

Bloodthirster of Khorne with Exalted Reward and Greater Reward

Herald of Khorne with Exalted Reward on Juggernaut
2 Heralds of Khorne with Greater and lesser reward, exalted Locus on Juggernaut

6 Bloodcrushers with Banner of Blood and Blood Hunter with a lesser reward. 

2 squads of 10 Bloodletters of Khorne, one with bloodreaper

2 squads of 15 Flesh Hounds of Khorne 

Bloodletters of do-nothing and die

Monday, 28 April 2014

Consistency lines


Hey guys, hope you've been enjoying your reading so far. A while ago, I read Reecius' opening review for the Astra Militarum codex. He wrote something that's run with me for a while, and something I decided I'd finally post about here. The quote in question is this:

"The more variables you eliminate or reduce, the more consistent your results will be."
Now this statement in and of itself is obvious. An AP3 weapon should be better against a tactical marine than an AP5 weapon because the marine is denied his armour save. For example, of course you will fire your vengeance bolt at a marine rather than a poisoned 2+, because you remove a variable! Do you still do the same thing if the marine would get a 4+ cover? Well, yes you do because if he's getting a 4+ cover he might go to ground and that's always better than killing a marine. To be short, this post will feature a lot of mathematics (relatively simple - I'm going to guarantee some of the actual math is wrong, feel free to gripe.) and will focus heavily on not using final wound values, but instead, the gradient line of the wounds to determine how successful a wound is. 


Shooting math is very simple most of the time. Every value should be presented over 6, with very few (mostly to do with armour penetration) requiring more than a single dice. If you're familiar with basic math-hammer, you can skip this section - or not, because I know you'll be there to pick me up on my mistakes, I know you. (you're actually just skimming this section, praying that I've made a mistake!) Anyway, Lets have a look at some in game values and translate them into math. Let's do a boltgun Versus a tactical marine, nice and easy, relatable. 

A boltgun hits a marine on a 3,4,5 or 6 because of BS4, wounds on a 4,5 or 6 because of S4 versus T4 and causes an unsaved wound on a 1 or a 2. 4 of 6 instances result in a hit, 3 of 6 instances result in a wound and 2 of 6 instances translates to an unsaved wound. This can be easily represented as...

4/6 x 3/6 x 2/6. This translates into 24/216 which is 12/108, 6/54, 3/27 and then 1/9. This means, when shooting is exactly average, you can rely on your target tactical marine dropping to 9 boltgun rounds. Tell me if this is not clear enough. 

Let's say you actually shoot the 9 boltgun rounds needed to cause 3 wounds at him, and he saves all 3 - the lucky bastard! His chances of doing that are equal to his armour save (4/6) raised to the power of the number of wounds he had to save - in this case, 3, so (4/6)^3, or roughly 7.4% - a reasonable chance, actually. One in roughly 14 instances will result in him not taking a wound. 

What we're looking at here, is how to represent the fact that if one were to remove the armour save, how much removing that 1/~14 chance will increase your likelihood of causing a wound. For that, we need three things: Graphs, Gradients and Good ol' fashioned university holidays. 

Basic Shooting 

The Graph to the right represents the chances to wound for a range of weapons. The Dark Blue is a boltgun, Red is a lasgun, green is a hot shot lasgun, purple a heavy bolter and the cyan or light blue is a plasma gun. This graph only shows you what seems to be the attrition of wounds as you go through different rolls on the chart. You'll notice a spike for the hotshot lasgun, where it doesn't follow the trend of the other lines in its group - this just shows how much of an impact AP3 actually has on its function.

It is worth noting that technically, these graphs are not suitable for generating gradient lines because the X axis does not show a quantitative value, but a qualitative value. If it bugs you, simply treat "Shot" as X1,0, To hit as X2,0, To wound as X3,0 and after saves as X4,0. As for the meaning of the qualitative terms used, "Shots" is always 5 - I chose to use a baseline because the gradient for 2 plasma gun shots is going to be MUCH smaller than 20 boltguns, rather than just A LOT smaller. Also, 5 shots ensures the graphs are always a consistent scale.

Now we get onto the meat of this topic, Gradients and Consistency lines. Let's compare the gradients of different weapons. In the chart to the right, you can see that, compared to the other weapons, S7AP2 - a plasma gun - has a minute gradient value, being almost half that of a S4AP5 boltgun! Let's see why with some math. Of course, this shows that the ideal gradient is smaller - the smaller the gradient, the more horizontal the consistency line will be. 

As stated above, a marine dies to 11% of boltgun shots, or about 1/9 wounds from boltgun shooting. Some of the values are different for a plasma gun - while shots and "to hit" remain the same (the former for consistency's sake, the latter because your plasma gunner and your boltgunner will be in the same squad and thus, have the same BS. The differences come in wounding, and the fact that plasma guns ignore armour - this is huge because they completely ignore the armour save, effectively ignoring that 1/14 chance that 3 boltgun wounds won't kill a marine. 

Our values are for a boltgun are... 
4/6 x 3/6 x 2/6, or 24/216 (1/9)
Our values for a plasma gun are
4/6 x 5/6 x 6/6 or 120/216 (5/9)! 

This means roughly one plasma gun in two should wound and kill a marine - the odds are actually in the plasma gun's favour, at roughly 56%. This can be seen very clearly in the differences between the two graphs when they're isolated, as you can see to the right. For the record, the first graph shows a boltgun, with the dark red line being the gradient or consistency line of the shooting. 

The second graph shows a plasma gun's shooting. Notice how, in accordance with the remarkably small gradient line, the plasma gun's consistency or gradient line is closer to horizontal than the boltguns?  This is important. To make the matter of interpreting these graphs easier, the more horizontal the dark line is, the more likely the shot is to end in the result you want it to. 

In looking at graphing 40k in future, I implore my readers to use a consistency line, rather than a simple "hit, wound, save" line, like we saw in the first graph - it can be misleading. The Graph below shows all the shooting shown in the first graph, although this shooting is shown with consistency lines. Notice how, rather than blending in with the crowd until the very end, the Hot Shot Lasgun actually is distinctly above its peer weapons in terms of consistency? this is the result we should be looking for. 

Cookies for the person to comment and tell me what's wrong with this graph.

Twin-linked shooting 

So now then, let's go back to the inspiring quote for this post. Reecius wrote...

"The more variables you eliminate or reduce, the more consistent your results will be." 
Aside from the most obvious elimination - the armour save of the model, it is very hard to actually ignore a to hit or to wound roll, with almost no weapons having that capability. What we can do, is that second thing reduce our variables. The most readily available example of this is twin-linking a weapon. While not as good as increasing the number of shots in many cases - usually double shots would be better than a twin-linked weapon, twin-linking brings our variables into the fold. Suddenly, your chance of failing to hit with a single D6 at a 3+ drops from 33% to 11%. This can have a massive effect on the end result - for example, Twin-linked BS4 is actually more likely to hit than straight BS5 - the same being true of everything bar BS1, which is still about 5% worse than straight BS2. This is also why you can't expect to hit reliably with a non-skyfire weapon against a flyer. 

To our left is a graph detailing the same set of weapons, only this time the weapons have a higher to hit rating. (twin linked BS4, so .89 is the modifier rather than .67) What should become apparent quickly is that the difference between the final values is actually impacted so much so that the non S7AP2 shots don't cluster so much as they used to! I'm serious! have a look. Compare this graph to the other one. Go on, I'll give you a minute. 

Now, let's have a look at those gradients. It didn't make much of a difference for shooting that wasn't definitive (definitive meaning a shot that removes the armour save) Boltguns's gradient decreased .05, the lasgun's .03 hot shot lasguns dropped a massive .09, heavy bolters dropped below 1 at .98 (a loss of 9 points) and plasmaguns dropped from a minute .56 to an even smaller .32, or a loss of .24 points. Note that a plasma gun is now a third of a boltgun's gradient, not about half. 

This is excellent evidence of how as you eliminate variables, you become more able to produce consistent results

To see the differences in consistency lines, compare the graph to the right with the graph above, and I've provided a handy comparison graph for the boltgun and plasma gun as provided above, compared to now. 

Cover Saves 

Okay, so now we've seen how a positive variable adjustment impacts upon shooting. Let's look at how a negative one does. I'll have you note that these charts use a twin-linked weapon, so their values correspond to the immediate above, not the first set of graphs. 

The best way to throw a spanner in the works for a plasma gun's 5/9 kill ratio is to give it a cover save to chew through. Suddenly, your tactical marine is gifted with half his resilience in the form of his cover save. How does this affect the plasma gun's shooting, you ask? Let's have a look. Compare the graph to the right with the previous graph regarding the plasma gun. (included here for convenience.) Notice how many less wounds the plasma gun does? It drops from over 3.7 wounds to less than 2.5 with just a 5+ cover save! You can see this in the consistency line - the plasma gun's line now drops at a much sharper angle because of its newfound gradient.  Finally, one plasma gun now kills a marine 10/27 times, dropping from its old value at about 15/27!.

This change can be seen in the gradient value to the right - it has increased from .32 to .63 - almost double. Note that now, it is sitting at just under 60% of the boltgun's gradient value. 

The other interesting change here is the hotshot lasgun and the heavy bolter. Have a look at the graph above and you'll notice they cause the same number of wounds as each other, the heavy bolter being unchanged. This is because they're wound chance value has equalised to be the same. 

A heavy bolter's is
4/6 x 4/6 x 2/6
4/6 x 2/6 x 4/6
They're literally the same, just with one roll requirement being swapped in each case. And this can be seen in their gradient values. 

An Ideal Case

Let's have a look at an absolutely ideal case of shooting consistency. A BS5 model shooting a plasma gun with twin-linked and re-rolls to wound, ignoring both cover and armour. 

Notice how close the green line is to horizontal? Its chances of hitting are 35/36 (or 5/6+(1/6 x 5/6), chance of wounding is 35/36 and it ignores saves completely (assuming no screamers are present) It loses about 5.4% of its original output, total. This results in a gradient value of .07. This is 1225/1296, as a comparison, a plasma gun with no boons outside of BS4 and S7AP2 should do 720/1296, assuming no cover. 

Absolute opposite

The absolute opposite of an ideal case, may at first seem like a screamer with a re-rollable 2+, but it actually isn't. It's a Necron warrior, or immortal - anything with RP. Why? They create a worse variable than an invulnerable save. It's the same as an invulnerable save because you can't ignore it, but it's worse than an invulnerable save because when one passes an invulnerable save, he can be called upon to take another until he is removed as a casualty. Not so with reanimation protocols - you have to hope against hope that the necrons all die, or else the squad can come back to haunt you. This is a fantastic example of a variable you can't actually reduce all that terribly easily (except by destroying the unit of course!) and you can't expect yourself to do so reliably.

Thanks for Reading!

Consistency lines have been fun to build and write about, and analysing these graphs has been a great passtime for me. I hope you find the information I divulge here useful, and creating your own gradient lines against non-generic marine targets. 

As always, you're welcome to email me at, or contact me as scipio africanus on dakkadakka if you're uncertain about anything you've just read. I'd love it if you left a comment in the comments tab, as comments really do tell me people are finding what I'm reading entertaining, and help me to reach a wider audience.