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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Building an Argument for Balance Part 1: Can we agree on what balance means?

Before searching for a more quantifiable way to describe army balance, we have to first agree on what balance means. I already introduced the idea that “can” does not equal “okay” in the pre-statement. Let me flesh that out a little bit more.

One of the ways in which the competitive-scene nowadays justifies most armies being balanced is what I now refer to as the “mono-build” defense. Consistently, you will see the argument that is along the lines of, “well, Dark Eldar, overall, aren’t that good, but there is still a mono-build or perhaps two builds which are still competitive!” Replace Dark Eldar with a multitude of other armies, and you will see where I am going with this. The notion being put forth here follows two thoughts:

1) If an army CAN win a game, it must be balanced.

2) Even if the majority of an army doesn’t work, most of its units being worthless or over-costed, and if you hold your tongue JUST RIGHT, the list is balanced okay with other dexes.

As you see, with just the slightest amount of “spin”, both of these thoughts are not only ineffective at showing that a list is balanced; they are almost proof that there isn’t balance. If an army is LIKELY to win games versus CAN win games, there is an obvious imbalance. Space Wolves are LIKELY to win some of their games. Black Templar CAN win some of their games, if you hold your tongue right. Dark Eldar are OKAY provided you run a certain list. Imperial Guard has list variants running in droves, all of which creates uncertainty in play style and list composition, all advantages. These is no balance in stating that an army is competitive only every third Tuesday when the stars align. I hope that without further discussion, we can agree that THIS IS NOT BALANCE.

I think that what the competitive scene really wants to say is, certain armies, although not very balanced in the grand scheme, CAN still win at a tournament in the right hands, thusly making them balanced ENOUGH for competitive play. This statement is a lot better than trying to come up with some lame reasons why something works. We aren’t saying that the ‘dex is balanced. We are simply saying that they CAN still compete in some form or fashion. I like this notion much better because it contains honesty.

I’m not saying you can’t win the Heavy-Weight title in your 50’s. George Foreman did it. What I’m saying is that this doesn’t preclude an imbalance in fighters between someone in their 20’s and someone in their 50’s.

So, the point I want to drive home here is that just because something CAN be competitive does not mean it is balanced. In mixed martial arts, the Gracie family showed us that a man weighing 175 pounds can decimate a man weighing 275 pounds in a fight. That being so, we do eventually come to the realization that we get a lot more INTERESTING and FAIR contests when we put people in weight classes. See, truth be told, the goal of any competition should be to provide an arena that is as FAIR as possible to all contestants who are thusly competing on equal ground to determine a winner. This should be the dream of all competitive players! We want an arena where we can fairly determine who the best is, thusly enticing us to all get better.

As such, I would like to introduce the notion of FAIRNESS into the definition of balance, for perhaps the first time in competitive 40K culture. FAIRNESS combined with the CAN idea gets us on the road towards what balance really means.

Definition of Balance – Two armies are balanced when either army CAN defeat the other army and both armies are FAIRLY matched up.

You see, right away, the ability for an Imperial Guard player to mix and match more flavors into his list building than Baskin Robbins ice cream cones automatically places his potential Dark Angel opponents in an UNFAIR scenario. This truly violates the definition of balance, but in order to see that violation, you have to agree to several other ideas.

1) Proposition – Part of army balance is the ability for the army to create and/or construct a variety of viable lists.

2) Proposition – There must be a way to determine if a list is VIABLE or not.

3) Proposition – Viability is determined based on the overall level of FAIRNESS in potential match-ups.

Let’s talk about these ideas for just a moment, especially the third proposition. We are all familiar with the term “all comers list” as a list building technique which incorporates the idea of building an army list which is capable of fighting with and defeating any other possible list in the game. So, your ability to construct an “all comers” list will vary greatly depending on who your potential opponents are. For example, if you go to a tournament and know that you could only possibly face Necrons, Dark Angels, Witch Hunters, and Chaos Space Marines, your ability to construct an “all comers” tournament army with ANY list drastically increases rather than if you had to build a list knowing that you could potentially face every codex. The problem is, as is already generally accepted fact in the competitive community, that certain lists can only possibly compete with ALL other codices in very specific ways; i.e. mono-build theory. This IS generally accepted in most competitive circles, and if this is true, then proposition #2 must also be accepted otherwise this decision could never be made.

So, lastly, let’s analyze Proposition #1. Instead of asking you if Black Templar really can defeat Space Wolves thusly making it balanced, let me ask you something a little different instead. Is it FAIR that Black Templar are stuck with a couple of “mono-builds” and Space Wolves are not in a contest between the two? The answer is obviously no. It’s not fair. So, if something isn’t FAIR, why is it considered competitive? Or Balanced? It shouldn’t be! Fairness IS part of balance when it comes to competing.

This is why we don’t put Heavy Weight fighters in the ring with Middle Weight fighters. It’s not that the Middle Weight guy “can’t” win. It’s that we are introducing a scenario where there is inherent UNFAIRNESS. This doesn’t create a balanced competition just because the guy CAN win. It’s inherently unbalanced because it’s unfair. Simple.

Let’s get out of the arena of mono-building and variety. Let’s go an entirely different direction! Here some rapid fire questions for you.

· Is it FAIR that Black Templar have to pay more points for the same Razorback that Vanilla Marines get?

· Is it FAIR that Orks have no melta weapons?

· Is it FAIR that Necrons have to phase out because of We’ll Be Back even though Blood Angels can convey a FnP aura over almost their entire army and don’t suffer from this?

The answers to each of these questions are complicated! The point I’m trying to make here is that there is a lot of potential UNFAIRNESS throughout the whole game system. However, that’s inherent because we have different armies. We don’t want to make every army the same. That would be boring! What we really NEED is a way to judge FAIRNESS because fairness really is part of balance. We can’t do it with specific scenarios, we have to analyze the situation overall. In other words:

It’s definitely NOT FAIR that Space Marine devastators are flat out more expensive than Blood Angel devastators, but it MIGHT BE FAIR since Space Marines have access to some special characters that Blood Angels don’t. Thus, we introduce the idea that the overall “scheme” might create some fairness.

Likewise, we introduce the idea that the overall “scheme” might create some unfairness.

Let’s modify our definition a bit!

Definition of Balance - – Two armies are balanced when either army CAN defeat the other army and both armies are FAIRLY matched up in their overall ability to compete with their codex.

It’s going to be an uphill battle trying to figure out a way to decide on if two codices are overall FAIR and thusly, balanced! However, just because something is hard doesn’t mean we shouldn’t at least try!

Let’s add a few more things to our definition that should be taken for granted. First, FAIRNESS also encompasses ability to compete with each other across the scenarios in place. It also assumes that the players playing each army are of equal skill levels. It assumes a lot more than just that, as well!

There’s probably more that needs to be added to this definition as we move forward! We’ll discover it, I’m sure, as we embark on this journey.

Building an Argument for Balance (Pre-Statement)

When you take a course in ethics, usually required nowadays by some bureaucrat to get any kind of college degree, especially ethics as applied to technology, the “office printer” scenario always pops up. Is it ethical to use the office printer to print materials which are for personal use? The answer is easily understood to be, “no”. Yet, EVERYONE does it. Indeed, if everyone participates in such a dastardly, unethical practice, is it really unethical? A purist would argue that the answer is yes! A realist or naturalist would argue that, although unethical, reality dictates it as acceptable. Since ethics is a subjective matter, how could it really be unethical if everyone takes part in it -- thusly forming the majority opinion? Ethics aside, it is the scenario of “everyone knows it” but “no one admits it” that I really want to get to the bottom of. The reason is because that is exactly what I believe about the current state of codex imbalance in 40K.

Now, as any person who might fancy themselves a competitive player in the 40K arena knows, discussing any notion of balance, tactics, or appropriate army usage is generally lost in a public forum. That’s because the vast majority of the public doesn’t understand enough about the game or is stifled by their local meta in such a way as to skew their opinion into the realm of “doubt” rather than general acceptance of well-laid ideas. For example, although a competitive-minded individual doesn’t need to be told that Necrons are a terrible army, there are still many out there that would argue that it is still quite potent and effective. As will be shown, this very idea itself makes honestly discussing balance amongst codices extremely difficult since it’s hard to find common ground. For example, if the best tactician in your gaming group happens to play Necrons, you might believe that Necrons are a powerful force. If the best tactician plays Imperial Guard, your Necron players will wonder why they ever wasted money on their models, even if they are the second best players in your group.

However, a student of the competitive scene of 40K has no reason to have their ability to consider the state of codex balance be skewed in this way. Yet, the entire premise of this series of articles is going to be about building an argument to show that the codices are in fact not balanced. So, what gives? If the competitive scene seems to think that the majority of codices are balanced enough for general competition and I fancy myself part of that scene, why would I be writing an article about how they aren’t balanced – a paradox?

The answer is that I believe the competitive scene knows that there are imbalances but are unwilling to admit it. I think there are several possible reasons for this, but first, I want to talk about why I think we know this to be true.

• Ask a competitive-scene player who the best armies in 40K are. Do you think you will get an answer, or do you think you will get “they are all pretty equal!”?

• Ask a competitive-scene player how they would “rank” the armies in 40K. Notice how, consistently, certain armies will always fall to the bottom. Black Templar, Dark Angels, Necrons, and Demon Hunters are usually the worst. Usually following that will be Dark Eldar (pre-new Codex), Witch Hunters, Tau, and so on.

• Look at tournament results. How many Black Templar players have golden tickets this year? How many Space Wolf players have them?

• Analyze the armies that “known” competitive-scene players take to tournaments. Do you see any of them running Witch Hunters? Dark Eldar? Black Templar? Chaos Space Marines?

• Do we expect Black Templar players to win big tournaments this year? How about Chaos Space Marine players? How about Demon players? How about Space Wolf Players?

• If someone was new to the game, would you recommend that he/she pick up Dark Angels as their first army? How about Dark Eldar? How about Blood Angels?

I don’t need to answer these questions because we all already know the answer. Indeed, just like the “office printer” scenario, we will all scream that this game is basically “balanced” yet can plainly see that the answers to these very basic questions will certainly show that it is not. This is paradox! We all know it, but we won’t admit it.

So why is it like this?

I have several theories about this:

• Theory #1: Competitive-scene players know that admitting to an imbalance opens the door for much greater evils! Evils like COMP…. *shudder* Evils like DRIVING AWAY PLAYERS from their tournaments because their armies truly can’t compete. This theory is that competitive-scene players FEAR admitting there is imbalance because it might create a problem with building up the competitive scene. I’ll address this later.

• Theory #2: We “want” there to be balance. We want it so bad that we’ll lie to ourselves to make it so.

• Theory #3: We have a hard time separating ourselves from CAN versus PROBABLE. Example, a plane can crash and kill all the passengers. It’s still more PROBABLE that you will die in a car wreck rather than a plane crash. So, although Black Templar CAN win games against Imperial Guard, the PROBABLE outcome is that they won’t. More on this later, but we also have to assume that the two individuals are of equal skill.

• Theory #4: Competitive scene players, by nature, are arrogant individuals. It’s part of being competitive to believe that you are the best or that you have a chance. When presented with the idea of beating everyone else with Chaos Space Marines, they’ll rise to the challenge. (As an aside to this, when the rubber really meets the road, go back and look at bullet #4 and rebuke this one yourself!)

So, what’s my goal here? I have several.

• Like most other competitive players, I want to grow the community and the scene. First and foremost! I don’t believe we can truly do this if we mislead people about the current state of the hobby. This hobby is very, very expensive! Convincing people that Black Templar can be competitive with a “mono-build” is not the way to get new, competitive players.

• My goal is to create a base-line for what balance is or really means.

• My goal is to attempt to come up with a logical, reasonable way to show where balance exists and doesn’t exist. The reason for this is two-fold. First, I want to gather the evidence necessary to work for goal #1. Second, so we can start being honest with ourselves.

• My fourth goal is to show that “can” does not equate to “okay”. Just because something “can” doesn’t equate to it being functional. This will be extremely helpful to the majority of the player base out there that doesn’t like the whole competitive scene.

• Fifth, I want some reasonable solutions to the imbalance problem rather than the ostrich algorithm…. Burying our heads in the sand and pretending like this game is balanced so we don’t have to deal with it, usually in ways that scald competitive players like holy water to a vampire…. Namely a variation of comp or what I like to call league brackets. Just to plant a seed, the reason why we don’t put Heavy-Weight fighters in the ring with Middle-Weights.

• Lastly, I want more people to be able to play with and enjoy their armies in a truly competitive environment, one which is actually balanced, not “pretend” balanced.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Orks for The Battle for Salvation

So! Turns out that I will, in fact, be brining my Orks to the Battle for Salvation. This is because of two reasons.

1) My consistent bad dice slump over the past few months has really gotten to me. I think over the last week I’ve finally broken the slump, but at the time I was very “irked” by the elite army bad dice roll mojo, and Orks don’t care about dice!
2) As a result, I offered to let Cheatin’ Steve take the Wolves instead of the ‘Dar. The reason? Because Steven didn’t want to play Mech ‘Dar again. They are boring to play, and Steven wanted something more fun and more killy. We started working on “fun” ‘Dar lists which were hyper-killy, but as you can guess, they weren’t exactly hyper competitive. As such, because the Wolves were making me angry and because Steven needed something to play, I offered him the Wolves.

Now, I kind of regret doing that because the modifications that Steven and I made to the Wolf list are just downright disgusting. I don’t think he’ll be winning best sportsman this time after people see that list!

So, that’s stuck me with the less competitive army, but what the heck! It’ll be fun, and just like at ‘Ard Boyz, someone is going to rue the day they under-estimated Orks when they meet me. I don’t expect to take home gold, but I will not do badly. If I can come home with a winning record, mission will be accomplished. Go green!

So, I’ve spent the last 2 weeks literally obsessing about this Ork list. I’ve lost sleep over this! Honestly, this was easier for ‘Ard Boyz. Orks perform much better at 2500 points. The reason for this is because while many MSU armies have already maxed out their power slots (like Heavy, Fast, or Elite) at 2000 points, my Ork lists generally have not. That additional 500 points could be over 60 additional Orks, another Wagon squad, 2 squads of Storm Boyz, more Lootas, etc. etc. I had a lot more flexibility at 2500 than I do at 2000. Believe it or not, I actually prefer 1500 or 2500 with Orks. That’s because at 1500 MSUs have a much harder time stopping Wagons, and at 2500 I can pack a lot more in. 2000 points is a sweet spot for MEQ MSU.

So, here’s the list. Be warned, this list is not for the feint hearted nor for everyone. You absolutely have to understand and “commit” to it in order for it to work. For most players, this list lacks versatility and inability to handle all comers. That being said, I would state that as a Xeno player, you must adhere to the golden, Xeno, tournament rule! There is generally a 60-75% chance you will be playing Space Wolves, Blood Angels, or Marines! Play the meta game because it will rarely fail you! All comers is for the birds with Xeno armies in my opinion! If you can fight MEQ MSU, you are good. If you just so happen to run into the Demon guy, oh well! Maybe he will roll bad! Just remember, those MEQ MSUs won’t be packing in the anti-Ork weaponry either. This is your best strategic weapon. Use it!

Ghazzie (I call him “Tiny”) – 225
Big Mek + KFF – 85

4 x Mega Nobz w/ Battle Wagon + Deff Rolla + Big Shoota – 275
4 x Mega Nobz w/ Battle Wagon + Deff Rolla + Big Shoota – 275
10 x Lootas – 150

3 x Mega Nobz w/ Battle Wagon + Deff Rolla + Big Shoota – 235
19 x Boyz + Nob w/ PK – 155
19 x Boyz + Nob w/ PK – 155
30 x Shoota Boyz + 3 Rokkits – 210

Battle Wagon + Deff Rolla + Big Shoota + Stikkbomb Chukka – 120
Battle Wagon + Deff Rolla + Big Shoota – 115


The grand strategy behind this army is Berserk Charge! There’s no holding back, and there are no second chances. You will dive on the enemy with extreme prejudice and die a horrible death trying to tie them up and greatly weaken them the whole game. Gut reaction of most opponents once they see 5 battlewagons on the board is to BACK UP and SHOOT. This is EXACTLY what you want to happen. You barrel into them, shoving them into a corner, and try to tie them up for the rest of the game. You then attempt to win with your backfield by taking quarters, objectives, or what have you.

The Berserk Charge works in this case because of the sheer lethality of Deff Rollas. NO! Don’t get me wrong! It’s not the Deff Rollas that will do the killing! It’s the threat of the Deff Rollas that do the killing. That’s because your MEQ MSU opponent will want to protect his massive parking lot, and he will want to shoot your Battlewagons to do it. This provides a 1+ invulnerable save for your 30 man mob (because they won’t get targeted) and some serious target priority issues for the Lootas. Second, when you disembark to assault, what does he shoot at with his meltas?! The meganobz or the wagons?! Decisions, decisions!

As you well know, I’m big on the mathhammer, so the “but mez Tauz will PEW PEWZ your Battle Wagons off da boardz!” doesn’t fly because they statistics don’t support it at all. 14 front armor (even 12 side) + Big Mek = Wagons make it. Not to mention, nobody plays Tau. :p The point sticks though for the Razor-spam you will face.

Last but not least, for this list to function, you must have a very, very keen understanding of how to multi-assault and proper wagon usage. I have years under my belt and wield this army like a surgeon. So, I’m ready!

That’s the strategy. Here’s the unit notes.


Okay, Tiny has taught me a valuable lesson through recent play testing. First off, he’s a total BEAST. He’s got more beast in his pinky toe than most other special characters do at 225 points. The guaranteed 6 inch WAAGH! Is money in the bag for my 2nd turn assault. Also, his one turn of 2+ invulnerable has been absolutely invaluable.

Because Ghazzie/Tiny can use his WAAGH at any time, I can wait till my opponent’s shooting phase to pop it. This allows Tiny to soak up melta shots with a 2+ invuln, saving him and the 3 man Mega Nobz with him. Bonus, I can pop the WAAGH “at any time” which means I can wait till he has already shot at me to do it. The fearless to boot is also invaluable because it may just prevent a Mega Nobz squad who just got shot up from running after the assault. I didn’t use to take Ghazzie because he is the same cost as a Boyz squad, but extensive play testing has taught me that Ghazzie/Tiny is the man.


I know that most Ork players don’t understand or appreciate the Mega Nob. However, you must consider some key points to this choice. First and foremost, the only other option I have to serve the same role are normal Nobz. Meganobz are greater than Nobz in ALL CASES for my army. 2+ > 4+/FnP in all cases. Meganobz come with Klaw and 2+ for 40 points. Nobz can’t even come close to that! 45 minimum just for Klaw. 50 for Klaw + Armor + additional 50 for Pain Boy. For the same attacks and close to save, Nobz would be 250 points versus 160 points. Mega Nobz are better.
Second, Mega Nobz are just like normal terminators save for the Slow and Purposeful.

I don’t know why people hate them so much! I know, I know, no invulnerable right!? True! But they do have 2 wounds, and they do have a 5+ cover from shooting (Big Mek). However, they also have one thing Terminators will never have that is beyond the unit. They have transport options that don’t cost 250 points! Holy cow! Didn’t think about that did ya? In fact, I can run 10 Mega Nobz in 2 FAST Trukks for the price of 5 Terminators and a Land Raider. Think about it. You can’t beat Orks ability to transport their “Terminators”. I can get two battlewagons for CHEAPER than a single Land Raider.

Mega Nobz serve multiple roles. First and foremost, can openers. Any given Meganob has just under a 50% chance to stun lock a vehicle that moved > 6 inches. If they didn’t move or moved less than 6, it’s just gross. Multi-assaulting Meganobz with a free 6 inch fleet out of a wagon, can stun-lock many vehicles at once. Good stuff! Meganobz also create a target rich environment. Shoot the Nobz or the Wagons? Death by Rolla or Klaw? You pick!

Only thing that sucks about Mega Nobz is LD 7. That’s where Ghazzie/Tiny comes in! Fearless for a turn. Good stuff. And a turn is usually all you are going to get anyways.

Also, Meganobz are my answer to large, FnP assault squads and other nasties like Death Company or other Khorne Berserkers. You have to have some defense against these kinds of units.

The three man Mega Nobz squad is Tiny’s retinue. He only gets 3 because he doesn’t need them.


Liked these in playtesting. I only have a few hopes for my Lootas. First, they draw fire. Second, I hope maybe to pop a single transport, a vendetta, or if I’m real lucky, a Manticore! Third, they “help” with my anti-wolf scout infiltrate measures. Say what?!

Okay, Lootas help against Wolf Scouts how? First, maybe it will prompt my opponent to “outflank” them. Second, they can spray down any in mid-field. Here’s the problem folks, if you don’t know already. A guy who infiltrates his Wolf Scouts in mid-field with melta guns can seriously wreck Battle Wagons in mid-field before they get across the board. I don’t want to stop to “deal” with them because that ruins the speed element and gets me killed. Lootas will help to spray down those scouts or cause my opponent to want to “outflank” to kill the Lootas.

Also, if my Lootas can pop just one transport, I can use that as a multi-assault trick to get “stuck in” as I leap from wagons and assault vehicles to provide my opponent with no units to shoot because they will be in combat.
The 30 Man Shootaz:

Okay, normally, I don’t take Shoota Boyz, but I have high hopes for this squad. They are going to be my swiss-army knife of “situational” fixes. Here it goes.

1) Can use Shootaz to soften up IG Blobs, to Spray down Wolf Scouts in mid-field, or whatever. 3 rokkits could be used to try and pop tanks or Vendettas, or whatever. Not good odds but who cares!
2) More importantly, they provide Wolf Scout infiltrate defense. 30 Shootaz on average wipe a 6 man scout squad! Woot! One down out of mid-field!
3) Even more important, they provide the hearty bodies I need to deflect IG Vendetta Alpha Striking. I got Sneaksie Plans for this dealing with putting Boyz “in between” Wagons to block that Alpha Strike.
4) They provide a 30 Man core to take Objectives or Quarters while the rest of my army is attempting to “corner” or “shove” my opponent into a corner to win the game.

Last but not least is the Stikkbomb Chukka. It’s there because I had 5 points to spend. The wagon it is on will contain a 20 man mob. I will attempt to use that as a situational tool to assault an IG Straken Blob (should I face one) in cover so I can go at the same time. Only reason!
The Big Shootas on the Wagons are not there for shooting. They are there to “absorb” a weapon destroyed result to prevent an immediate immobilized.


My current weaknesses are going to be:
1) Manticores in general which annihilate battle wagons.
2) Blood Angel all assault lists with lots of FnP. Nothing Orks can do about this.
3) Storm Ravens with Dual Blood Talon dreads hiding in them.

My current strength is not borne in this list but in the assumptions and general arrogance of the average MEQ MSU player that Orks suck.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

To Frag or not To Frag???

I was doing some thinking about my SW list, and I started to question, when is it better to use Frag Missiles or Krak Missles to kill stock marines? I was somewhat surprised by the analysis, and figured I would share.

Krak Missile:
Chance to Hit: 0.666
Chance to Wound: 0.833
Chance to Kill = 0.666 * 0.833 = 0.5547 or 55.47% chance to kill.
Chance to Kill if in Cover = 55.47 / 2 = 27.7% chance to kill.

Krak is easy to calculate! However, before we can truly analyze Frag's potential, we must first deal with the "deviation" issue. The "deviation" issue is that a Frag missile doesn't have to exactly "hit", to hit. For example, a hit = a deviation of 4 inches or less = a deviation of 5 inches or less (because a centered template won't move off a model with a 1 inch deviation), etc.

So, to begin dealing with this, let's analyze just the flat out odds of a single Frag hit killing a stock marine.

Frag Killing a Marine:
Chance to Wound: 0.5
Chance to Fail Armor Save: 0.333
Chance to Kill = 0.5 * 0.333 = 0.1665 = 16.65% chance to kill a marine if a Frag missile hits it.

So, right at face value, to kill a single Marine, Krak is better than Frag, and we are assuming that the Frag auto hits! It's better even if the Marine is in cover.

Yet, we know that Frag doesn't hit just one marine (in theory anyways). That's the point! It hits multiple targets. So, the fundamental question is, when is it better to use Frag instead of Krak?


Just going off of what it takes to kill a Marine that is hit by Frag, it will take 2 HITS to Equal 1 Krak Missile against a Marine in Cover, and 4 hits to Equal 1 Krak Missile against a Marine in the open. We know that by using my trusty "At Least" calculator. Remember, this is statistics people! We would be so lucky as to just multiply here! Basically, 4 hits = 51% chance. 2 hits = 30% chance. It's close enough (although technically, you would need 5 hits to equal 1 Krak in Open BECAUSE there is no such thing as a fraction of a hit!)

Well! All of this great. The problem is, Frag doesn't auto-hit, does it? Indeed, it does not. That little blast template deviates. In fact, it deviates 44% of the time!

Here's the math:
Chance To Roll a Hit + Chance that 2d6 <= 4 = Total chance to not deviate.
Chance to Roll a Hit = 33%
Chance that a 2d6 <=4 = 16.7%
Total = 33.333% + (16.7777% * 66.66%) = 44.4%

*** In case you were wondering where the 16.7% * 66.6% came from, it's because the chance to roll <=4 on 2d6 is 16.7%, but when the Hit Dice is used, 33% of all outcomes are already a hit. Thus, 16.7% of the remaining 66% of outcomes is all that we need to apply.

So, 44% of the time, the blast marker will go exactly where we put it. This is something we can work with! Okay, let's do some more Mathhammer! Now, let's assume our Blast Template HAS TO HIT for this to work. How many Marines would HAVE TO BE HIT in order for the Frag to be better than the Krak?

Frag to Hit + To Kill:
Chance to Hit: = 0.444
Chance To Wound: = 0.5
Chance to Fail Armor Save: = 0.333
Odds to Exactly Hit and Kill A Marine With Frag = 0.444 * 0.5 * 0.33 = 0.0739 = 7.39%

Not very good at all! So, let's put our handy "at least 1" calculator to work and ask the question: "when will Frag hits EQUAL a Marine in Cover and not in Cover?"

Marine in Cover = 27.7% chance to kill with Krak.
How Many Hits will it take from Frag before we greater than or equal to a 27.7% chance to kill? Survey Says: Approximately 4 hits (26.4%)!

We have to Tag 4 Marines with an exact hit to equal 1 Krak Missile firing into a Marine in cover. For a marine not in cover, we need 11 WHOPPING HITS to equal one Krak Missile. Yikes!


One more thing to consider before we come to our final conclusion. Just because a Frag missile doesn't exactly hit where we want to doesn't mean that it misses!

One could make the argument that slight deviation isn't a big deal. However, now, we are entering into the realm of situational arguments! The next question is, well, how much deviation is acceptable? That's going to depend on how clumped up the target is! Now, I knew you would ask me these questions! So, I'm solving it for you!

Here's your answer to the age old question in RAW form:

How many Marines do I have to be able to HIT with Frag before it is better to use than Krak????

Odds To Kill a Marine where No Deviation is Acceptable: 0.0739
- Need to Hit 4 Marines = 1 Krak in Cover
- Need to Hit 11+ Marines = 1 Krak not in cover
Odds To Kill a Marine where 1 inch Deviation is Acceptable (51.8% to deviate one inch or less): 0.0862
- Need to Hit 4 Marines = 1 Krak in Cover
- Need to Hit 10 Marines = 1 Krak not in cover
Odds To Kill a Marine where 2 inch deviation is Acceptable (61.05% to deviate two inches or less): 0.102
- Need to Hit 3 Marines = 1 Krak in Cover
- Need to Hit 8 Marines = 1 Krak not in cover
Odds to Kill a Marine where 3 inch deviation is Acceptable (72.15% to deviate three inches or less): 0.12
- Need to Hit 3 Marines = 1 Krak in Cover
- Need to Hit 6 Marines = 1 Krak not in cover
Odds to Kill a Marine where 4 inch deviation is Acceptable (81.4% to deviate four inches or less): 0.135
- Need to Hit 2 Marines = 1 Krak in Cover
- Need to Hit 6 Marines = 1 Krak not in Cover

Okay, so, let's wrap it up!

Q) Well, how do I know how much deviation is acceptable?
A) The answer to this is easy! The acceptable deviation = the amount of marines you NEED TO HIT to be better than Krak. So, if Marines are sitting in cover, and you can still hit 3 Marines OR MORE, even if the template deviates 2 inches from where you place it, Frag is better! If not, Krak is better. You see?

Q) So, basically what you are saying is that the likelihood of Frag ever being better than Krak against a Vanilla Marine who is not in cover is slim to none?
A) Yes, that's exactly what I'm saying. If you can't see that here, look again. :) There is a slim possibility that you could tag enough Marines, but they would have to be seriously clumped up, like just having deep struck or something. Remember to pay attention to your deviations before you go "NUH UHZ IT HAPPENZ ALL DUH TIMEZ!"

Q) So, what's the short answer here?????? (You expect me to follow all of this crap???)
A) The short answer is!!!

You need to be able to hit 4 Marines with a direct hit to really make it statistically better than firing a single Krak Missile into cover. It's basically never more efficient to use Frag over Krak if the Marines are not in cover.

Past that, things get more complicated. You have to start "eyeballing" allowed deviation amounts and odds of hitting a certain amount. Refer to the chart to see! Basically though, if you lay that small blast marker down and it touches 4 or more marines, you are better off using Frag (unless they aren't in cover!)