Lesson 3: Resources
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- This article is part of Warmachine University's Learn Objectives, Tactics, & Strategy (LOTS) series, which is "Intermediate Training" aimed at intermediate players who are trying to become better players.
- (You may also be interested in our "Basic Training" series, LPG.)
As of 2018.11 the LOTS articles are still a WIP. If you have a question that isn't answered, or a topic you'd like to see added, we'd like to hear about it. Post your thoughts on the Talk:Learning to Play the Game (LPG) page.
This section is here to allow the newer player to understand what resources they have. In many ways, all factions are the same, and all games are alike. You have models, the opponent has models. Some models hit hard, some have stamina, some models function in groups. It works that way for you both, but if this was the end of it, you would be able to see who would win every game before moving the first model. But its 'not' the end of it, the game is not a grind. If you look at the stuff you have in front of you during a game, you'll be able to make a simple economy management analysis of assets and resources. Your assets would be your models, the things you physically have and can put on the table. How to use these, see the previous lesson section. Then you have your resources, the things you have access to - and they allow the efficiency or survivability of certain models to go through the roof. You can't do it everywhere, though, and you almost always want to do more than your resources allow. So, you must apply critical resources to various places, with the right timing, in the right order, against the right targets. Very often when you lose a game, you'll be able to trace your loss back to a particular choice. Lets go through the resources you have.
- your Boosts - can be applied through focus / fury, or possibly soul / corpse tokens. Understand the dice.
- your Feat - timing is all!
- your Buffs - where to apply these positive spells and effects ? Use the bell shaped curve.
- your combined attacks - gives small and puny guys flexibility to off big targets.
- Power Attacks - move models around a little more.
- 1 Your Boosts
- 2 Your Feat
- 2.1 Attack feats somehow directly harm the opponents models.
- 2.2 Offensive feats add to your killyness
- 2.3 Defensive feats buffs your survivability in various ways
- 2.4 Debuff feats puts severe limitations or penalties to the opponents forces
- 2.5 Control Feats
- 2.6 When or how to feat
- 3 Your Buffs
- 4 When to Combine Attacks
- 5 Power Attacks
- 6 Colossal- and Gargantuan-specific Power Attacks
You have limited resources every turn, but in any given situation, you will almost always be able to kill a specific model on your turn, if you really want it dead. If you really, really want something dead, apply ressources until it dies. With that said, it gets complicated from there. Sometimes you'll just boost for it and the problem goes away. Sometimes boosting would be a waste of efficiency. Here are some basic rules of thumb considering probability calculations. They assume long drawn-out battles and target-rich environments. In some situations, removing a priority target without risk of failure (i.e. overkill) might be more important than removing several targets by efficient dice management. Removing a threat to your caster should always be prioritized, unless you can achieve a win before the threat delivers. So as numbers dwindle, statistics become less important, skewing the calculation of quality vs quantity priority. The goal of boosting is to increase the chance of rolling equal to or above a certain number. An example of this would be:
- To hit DEF 16 using a RAT 7 model, a 9 or higher on two dice is required, which has approximately a 28% chance of happening. This means that the attack will be successful slightly more than once in every four attempts.
- Boosting the roll (and now using three dice) increases the chance of rolling a 9 or higher to approximately 74%. In this case, the attack will be successful slightly less than every three out of four attempts.
1. Ranged & magic attacks: Boosting to hit
Often, Warjacks and Warbeasts have ranged weapons with RoF 1, so efficiency through purchasing extra attacks is not an option. Models using multiple attacks (such as Dynamo's Multi-Fire) should almost always boost the first attack. If multiple attacks through Reloads are an option, buying one may achieve the same result as boosting. Scarcity of focus/fury may also dictate your next course of action. For example:
- A Defender has a high POW, RoF 1 ranged attack. Given its average RAT, boosting is often advisable when trying to beat DEF values above 13 (more than 7) so the high-POW shot is not wasted.
- A Dire Troll Bomber has a RoF 1 [Reload] weapon. Against DEF 12 or lower targets, buying another shot creates the potential for two damage rolls with good chances of hitting (7 or less) rather than a single damage roll that is very likely to hit.
- A full unit of Long Gunners can gain the aiming +2 bonus and fire 20 times if all grunts forfeit their movement, which may be more efficient than investing the 2 focus it costs to use the spell Deadeye on the unit (which boosts all ranged attack rolls) and firing 10 times without the aiming bonus.
When casting spells, most 'casters/'locks with FOC/FUR lower than 7 will need to automatically tack on the cost of boosting to make sure the spell hits. COST 2-3 spells that require a 7 or higher to hit and COST 4 spells that require a 6 or higher to hit should typically be boosted, although this is dependent on secondary effects. For instance, Lord Arbiter Hexeris's Ashes to Ashes is a good candidate for boosting while an AOE spell like Stryker1's Earthquake can be effective even without a direct hit. An edge case for boosting ranged attacks is AOE attacks. Since these attacks scatter rather than disappear when they miss and generate blast damage, they don't necessarily need to hit directly to be successful. Careful placement of the originating model can cut down the scatter to effectively "target" the attack and hit high DEF models without boosting. Beware of models that are immune to blast damage through Girded, such as Praetorian Karax when investing in AOE attacks!
2. Ranged & magic attacks: Boosting damage
When considering whether or not to boost a ranged damage roll, consider the following:
- Is this a RoF 1 weapon or a spell expensive enough to cast only once? If so, boosting may be warranted to get maximum damage out of the attack. Feats or abilities that provide additional attacks will alter this consideration.
- Regarding spells, consider the trade-off between having additional focus available for casting more spells/buying attacks/etc. and adding d6 to a single damage roll. For example, 6 focus will buy three Arcane Bolt spells that will do an average of 18 damage per hit before ARM, or two of the same with boosted damage rolls that produce an average of 20-21 damage per hit before ARM. That additional 2-3 damage may be important when targeting something that needs to die quickly such as Eiryss1 or a Pistol Wraith, or even having an effect on high-ARM models such as a Devastator. On the other hand, the additional spell could kill an extra warrior model.
- How much damage does the attack need to do?
If the POW of the ranged attack is target's ARM -4 or worse, consider boosting to make sure you put a dent in your target. When POW is target's ARM - 2 or better, you may be doing sufficient damage on straight dice anyway. Of course, there is no such thing as overkill...
3. Melee attacks: boosting to hit
If a model needs an 8 or higher to hit in melee, the expected number of hits is the same when boosting to hit or buying extra melee attacks. Therefore:
- If a 7 or lower is needed to hit, the attack roll should not be boosted.
- If a 9 or higher is needed, the attack roll should be boosted.
- If an 8 or higher is needed, boosting is dependent on whether or not one hit will probably kill the target. If yes, it should be boosted to ensure success. If no, then an additional attack should be bought as it provides me the chance of a double hit and subsequent additional damage (which will get you further than one attack with a better chance of hitting).
A good rule of thumb concerning charge/special attacks is that if facing a tough target, attacks that require a 7 or higher to hit should be boosted to avoid losing the bonus. Chain attacks such as the Hammersmith's Smite and contingent effects such as Critical effects may also push boosting.
4. Melee attacks: boosting damage
Note that it's often more focus/fury-efficient than indicated here just to overkill a target and put it down on the first attack (or to make sure you finish off a column/aspect).
- Single wound targets:
- Against low DEF targets, boost if you need an 8 or better to kill.
- Against high DEF targets, boost if you need a 7 or better to kill.
- Multi-wound targets:
- If your target will require greater than 5 points of damage beyond ARM to kill/disable, always boost damage if your P+S is target's ARM - 4 or worse. For example, assuming no Paingiver Beast Handlers the P+S 16 attacks of a Titan Gladiator should usually be boosted against an ARM 20 Marauder
- If an 8 or more is needed to hit, boost damage unless P+S is target's ARM + 1 or better, as it will effectively take more than 2 focus/fury to hit and the boost will add around 50% to the overall damage of the attack (and if I'm doing more damage than that, I look for the fastest way to total the target). In short, if an 8 or more is needed to hit then damage should be boosted as overkill is rare in such a situation.
- If a 7 is needed to hit, then damage may be boosted if P+S is target's ARM - 3 or better. This is largely contingent on availability of focus/fury.
- Otherwise, don't boost damage.
5: Boosting for Crits
It's always worth boosting your to hit roll if you really want to get that crit, but even boosted crits aren't reliable. Some times, it might be easy to hit that war beast, but you just really want to get that critical hit! Here's a table to help understand how much a boost greatly increases your crit-chances. Remember that a roll of all 6s hits automatically, even if you couldn't hit that model otherwise - which is why the table is weird at the end. You can't be "required" to roll 13 or more on 2d6, or 18 or more on 3d6. All 6's results in an auto hit.
|Required to hit||on 2d6||on 3d6|
|2 or better to hit||14% chance of crit||44% chance of crit|
Feats are force multipliers that can be applied once per game. They range from the semi-mundane to the mind-blowingly awesome, but can usually be counted on to swing the battle one way or another. So how do you get the most out of your model's feat? Feats may be general in effect or target specific subsets of your/your opponent's army. Depending on what models are affected, positioning may be very important to deciding when to use a feat. In general, these are some common buckets that feats fall into. Some are like these, some are combinations:
- Self: A few models mainly affect itself, for example: Haley 3
- Target: These feats target a single something - such as when Thagrosh, Prophet of Everblight revives a warbeast.
- Battlegroup: These are feats that typically affect members of your battlegroup (warjacks/warbeasts only) that are within your control area. Your warlock or warcaster, and any models in their unit (if applicable), is also part of the battlegroup. For example: Doomie 2
- Friendly faction models: These are feats that will typically affect models from your faction that are within the control area. Note that mercenaries/minions typically will not be affected. For example: Irusk 1
- Friendly, Enemy or All models within the control area: These feats will only affect models (specific or subsets therein) within your control area, such as Ashlynn D'Elyse
- Area: These feats create defensive clouds, rough terrain or other obstacles that affect the table. Wurmwood is considered the king of Area effect feats.
Besides this typology, feats could be loosely categorized as either attack feats, offensive feats, defensive feats, or debuff feats. Feats are incredibly different, so combinations do occur; some will be much more ambiguous or situational. Many of them might have two such categories.
Attack feats somehow directly harm the opponents models.
- Commander Adept Nemo has probably the most straight forward attack feat. All enemy jacks/beasts take a POW 14.
- Iron Lich Asphyxious has a feat that blights the living, killing them, nurturing themselves. Then he is buffed.
- The Harbinger of Menoth has a defensive styled attack feat. Her zone of command makes it really hard to avoid the burn.
- Feora, Protector of the Flame moves existing fire onto enemy models, burning them.
Offensive feats add to your killyness
- Captain Jeremiah Kraye, buffing his jacks
- Supreme Archdomina Makeda buffs her warriors
- Una the Skyhunter has a feat that is both defensive and offensive, but the defensive portion is mostly there to aid the offense.
- Cognifex Cyphon has a feat that buffs his monstrosities, but punishes them afterwards.
Defensive feats buffs your survivability in various ways
- Commander Coleman Stryker gives a straight up armor bonus
- Void Seer Mordikaar adds defense and tricks to avoid getting attacked.
- Vice Scrutator Vindictus makes his warriors impossible to charge
Debuff feats puts severe limitations or penalties to the opponents forces
- Warwitch Deneghra and Wraith Witch Deneghra have cryxian debuff feats, eating your efficiency.
- Dominar Rasheth does a really cryxian debuff game for a skorne warlock.
- Magnus the Warlord's unusual debuff shuts down most movement, and requires players to move directly forward or backwards.
This is a special category of feats that usually entail affecting the positioning of models, or telling the enemy what they can or can't do. These are generally considered some of the most powerful in the game, since it doesn't matter how high your RAT is if you can't draw LOS to your target. These can be further broken down into soft and hard control. Soft control doesn't expressly forbid your opponent from doing something, but makes it so they will need to struggle immensely to do that thing. Hard control feats say 'you can't do this, period'. Some examples:
- Kreoss 1- Jacks and Beasts can spend to stand up, but the vast majority of the opponents army will need to forfeit movement or action to do anything.
- Witch Coven- very few models have the ability to ignore LOS when it comes to ranged attacks or charges. On the surface this appears to be similar to stealth, but normal anti-stealth tech, such as truesight or eyeless sight, won't get around this feat.
- Wurmwood- Forests block LOS, create difficult terrain, and buff DEF. Few armies will have the tools to circumvent all three of those aspects, and some won't be able to get around any.
- Haley 2- the undisputed queen of control. This appears similar to Kreoss's feat, in that the enemy needs to forfeit, however, no one is able to spend to get a full activation, unlike his feat.
- Magnus 2- Picking the front and rear edges often means an army is glued in place, only getting to move side to side. This can literally halt the advance of a melee army, and often mean the taking of scenario elements for Magnus.
- Exulon Thexus- I decide where you go. This might mean bunching up infantry for AOE's, putting non-pathfinder models into difficult terrain, or clearing out scenario zones.
When or how to feat
The use of a feat should happen in a situation where its benefits can be maximized. In practice, this is rather difficult to accomplish as your opponent won't (willingly) cooperate with your plans. Break a feat down into what is needed to support and get the most out it. For example, Kreoss1's feat knocks down every enemy model in his control area. Knocked down model do not block line of sight, are hit automatically by melee attacks and practically automatically hit by ranged attacks. Maximizing Kreoss1's feat involves massive firepower capable of scrapping multiple knocked down models.
Mordikaar1's feat adds a significant bonus to defense, so he will want a list that is already hard to hit. When creating a list for him, you'd rather give him a bunch of models that are really hard to hit, and on feat turn almost impossible to hit, rather than taking mediocre units that get somewhat acceptable defense stats during his feat. An important point to make, however, is to never build your army completely around your feat, as you may fall into creating a heavily skewed list that may be hard-countered by specific enemies. If Feora2's army is incapable of attacking with anything but fire, you'll have a problem against fire immunity for example. See Lesson 1 on Skews, if you want to go that way, anyways.
So you can dish out a lot of buffs. Which ones naturally depends on your faction. So where to put them ? You have to look and understand your and your opponent's stats to know which place a spell or effect might have the greatest effect. You are looking to increase the difficulty of succeeding a potential dice rolls against as much as possible. The Defenders Ward spell grants +2 DEF and +2 ARM. To know where to put it, look at what you have, and what they are facing. On 2d6, the average roll is 7, as mentioned above. If you are looking at a MAT 5 enemy and your guys are DEF 13, he needs a 8 to hit you. There is a 41% chance of rolling 8 on 2d6. If you bump up your defense by +2 so he needs a 10 there is only 17% chance of getting it. So +2 greatly changes your survivability. If the enemy has MAT 5 however and your guys have DEF 11, the picture is different. He needs a 6 to hit you, netting him a nice 72% chance of rolling the 6 required to hit your guys. You are very much on the wrong side of the bell curve. If you buff them, you merely climb to the other side of the bell curve with the 41% chance of getting an 8. Considering you invested resources creating the buff, the first target is a better investment. The bonus is the same, but the net yield is much better, because you move further down the bell curve.
When to Combine Attacks
As a rule, high-DEF targets get attacks combined at them to ensure hitting, and high-ARM targets get attacks combined to ensure maximum damage. The MAT/RAT and P+S/POW scores of the squad will dictate who leads the attack. When looking to hit, the model with the highest MAT/RAT should lead the attack (this will typically be a UA). When looking at potential damage, a buffed model or a model with a better weapon should lead the attack for maximum results.
For a model to contribute to a combined attack, it must meet the following conditions, no matter if it is CRA or CMA: > Be able to declare an attack against the target > Have LOS to the target > Have the target within weapon range Large units attempting a CRA may run into positioning/line-of-sight issues, particularly with units such as Long Gunners that benefit greatly from forfeiting movement to aim Units attempting a CMA may also run into positioning issues, as getting sufficient models into melee range for an optimum CMA may be difficult. Medium/large/huge-based targets are naturally easier to CMA with the majority/all of a unit.
2. Combining to hit
All models in a unit should not automatically participate in a single combined attack, as pushing the combined MAT/RAT of the attack too high can waste useful additional attacks. The table below provides rough guidelines of how many models should participate in a given attack for particular to-hit targets. Try to add stragglers to make the groups as even as possible, and as close to the optimal numbers as possible. It is generally better to use too many models in a group than too few to ensure the attacks hit.
- If you need 8 or less to hit, do not combine attacks
- If you need 9-10 or better to hit, combine attacks in groups of 2 warriors
- If you need 11 or better to hit, combine attacks in groups of 4 warriors
- If you need a 12 to hit, combine attacks in groups of 6 warriors (or 5, depending on unit)
3. Combining for damage
This assumes that you are rolling 2d6 for damage; normally a safe assumption for ranged attacks, but many infantry capable of CMA also charge and there are many buffs that can add to the damage of a CRA.
- If the difference between P+S and ARM is 5 or less, do not combine attacks
- If the difference between P+S and ARM is 6-8, make 1 CRA pr 2 warriors
- If the difference between P+S and ARM is 9 or more, make a large CRA, all in.
Note that if a 7 or higher is needed to damage the target, efficiency is tied between 1 and 2 models per attack (elevating 2-model attacks due to the increased chance of hitting).
Power Attacks are often seen as a higher level skill. While a lot of players focus on raw damage output, being able to control the position of enemy models or mitigate their defensive abilities is a key tool of that style of play. Although still not tools you might not use in every single game, being able to call on them on the right moment can swing the game in your favour and catch your opponent off guard.
Slams are very useful for two primary purposes:
- Knocking down more distant models to make them vulnerable to other attacks
- Typically good for assassination or knocking down high DEF models that would otherwise not be particularly easy to remove by slamming a model over them
- Especially useful against models that can make out of activation moves (such as Dodge or Admonition) or attacks (such as Free Strikes, Quick Draw or Return Fire)
- Pushing models out of a position where they can contest or score a scenario element, especially when you don't have the tools to reliably destroy that model
- In tournament play this is a good way to score control points late game when you don't expect the game to continue beyond the current turn (For example, you need to score one more control point to be 5 ahead of your opponent)
Throws can serve a similar purpose to Slams, but have some different factors involved:
- You can only advance and make a Throw
- You have a greater control over where the thrown model will go
- You can either target another model or throw it directly away from where your model stands
- You only knock down the thrown model and any models it hits at the point it ends up
- Rolling off against your opponent to see whether the throw is successful adds another layer of risk as this comes after the normal roll to hit
Although Throws are a lot riskier than Slams, they often work around a range of rules. Models such as the Titan Sentry or Warjacks affected by Magnetic Field aren't moved by slams, but are otherwise affected by the Throw power attack.
Being able to throw a model directly away from your own can be useful. If you can position your model to the side of the enemy model you wish to Throw, you can end up sending that model out of its controller's control range if they have been skirting the edge of it. This is useful vs Warjacks if you pull it off since they will be knocked down and no longer be able to Power Up. With no focus, knocked down Warjacks, especially melee Warjacks, get very little done. Similarly, Warbeasts with fury on them won't be able to have that removed making them likely to frenzy and potentially meaning their controller is unable to leech enough back to regain all of their fury.
The optimal models to use Throws with are those that are initially behind your front line, so they can advance into melee and throw; or those models with access to a speed buff (e.g. Bounding Leap or Escort/Battle Host).
At a glance, Tramples allow you to run over a bunch of small-based models to kill more than you would with your melee weapons. Trampling also allows you some excellent positioning tools, especially since it gains an extra 3" on the model's move:
- Models that deny charges or slams can be trampled up to and attacked (although you sacrifice your initial attacks in the process) if the model is placed in your threat range.
- Tramples can go in any direction, unlike charges or slams which have to target a specific model in Line of Sight.
- Trampling does not end the model's activation at the end of the move, which has interesting interactions with rules such as Dual Attack, Reposition or any other ability not tied to a model's action like casting spells.
Knockdown on a stick (or a head?).
Headbutts are useful if:
- You want some other models to come in and beat down a specific target.
- That's really helpful if those other models have a rule such as Trash.
- Shoot it with ease.
- Even Khador heavy Warjacks have a respectable DEF14 when engaged in melee.
- Being knocked down means not only does their DEF drop through the floor, they no longer count as being engaged in melee.
- Your melee weapons are crippled.
- Since the head is not tied to any system, attack and damage rolls from a Headbutt aren't affected when they're crippled.
Colossal- and Gargantuan-specific Power Attacks
The big boys bring some additional tools in their power attack arsenal in addition to those above.
Being jammed by a large volume of models? No problem! The Sweep means you get to attack every single model in your melee range.
- Note that a Sweep attack is not made using the model's weapons, so any rules attached to their weapons (such as the Stormwall's Electro Leap) don't trigger on each model hit.
Normal Slams require the slamming model to move at least 3" to slam the enemy model. The Power Strike dispenses with that requirement as the Colossal can Slam the model away from a standing position.
This is handy when:
- The model can't make a Slam power attack.
- You're already in melee.
- You want to knock down models immediately behind the model you're Power Striking.
If the last point above isn't your main objective, a Throw is probably a better idea. With such a high STR value, Colossals can send an enemy model a much further guaranteed distance than the random Slam distance since the Throw distance will usually be around 8" or more.