One of the major changes in the new edition is how close combat works. Formerly, if you got the charge you attacked first. Deadly great weapons on the charge were far more lethal as they could strike without worrying about their drawbacks. Poor quality troops getting the charge could, with a bit of luck, wipe out the front row of elite warriors and never face their vengeance. Initiative was irrelevant.
In the new edition, nothing could be further from the truth. Great weapons still strike last, even on the charge. In each round of combat between troops not wielding great weapons (or possessing the “Always Strikes First” rule) initiative determines who gets first shot.
This matters. If you are facing a guy with several high WS, high S attacks with a re-roll to hit and somehow manage to kill him before he gets to swing he does not matter. More realistically, if you are facing waves of troops of lower quality and you yourself are fragile, you have a better chance of not receiving your come-uppance if you take care of business when striking first.
So how important is a good I? I actually rank it fairly highly…but that is largely because most models with a high I also have decent to good WS and decent to good S.
For some models it is less important. A heavily armored, multi-wound character can get by with a lower I score because he can let most of the hits he takes bounce off his armor, and even if one gets through he is likely to be around to deal out some punishment.
By contrast, if a unit is a poor fighter anyway, they are unlikely to do much damage when they swing. If they get robbed of their attacks through inconveniences such as dying a horrible, grisly death before they get to swing, well, it probably did not matter much anyway.
Counter intuitively, this means I is less important the worse the other stats are. It relies more heavily on WS and S than most stats do. It only matters hugely between relatively equally matched models or between models with a slight advantage to one of them.
I think a classic match-up is Chaos Warriors versus. Temple Guard. Relatively close in points costs, they each have 2 base attacks, armor save of 4+, S4, T4, and save of 4+. Chaos Warriors hit on 3+ and are hit on 4+.
Warriors are required to take an upgrade, lets give them a shield as that is relatively common, and I think Temple Guard might have to take halberds, giving them S5. So those are our parameters.
First, based on I, 10 TG v 10 CW
CW 20 A, 13.34 hits, 6.67 wounds, 2.2 saves; 4.5 TG have 9 A, 4.5 hit, 3 wound, 2 save.
Round 2: 9 CW v. 4.5 TG; 18A, 12 hits, 6 wound, 2 save. 1 Saurus attacks back…does it matter?
Clearly, it is a rout.
Second, assume they had equal I
CW, same results; 10 Saurus, 20 attacks, 10 hit, 6.67 wound, 2.22 save, 4.45 dead
Round 2, 6.5 CW v. 4.5 Saurus
CW, 13 A, 8.67 hits, 4.33 wounds, 1.43 save; 4.5 TG, 9 attacks, 4.5hits, 3 wounds, 1 save
Round 3; 4.5 CW v. 1.5 TG
CW, 9 A, 6 hits, 3 wounds, 1 save; TG, 3 attacks, 1.5 hit, 1 wound, .33 save
Still a clear win for the Warriors, but now their numbers have been reduced by over half. They are down to 3ish warriors. Not enough to win a game on its own…but in conjunction with their (theoretical) magic advantage, it can swing a game hugely.
Just altering the I of the TG to match the Warriors, while it does not make them equal, it at least allows them to be a credible threat and do some damage on their way out the door.
So clearly, I is important between similar ability models. As shown by the above, S, T, and saves still mean more.
When the models have widely disparate abilities, it matters less. So yes, I is important…but not the most important stat.
Imperial Guard get their first run - Took what will eventually be my Cadian 317th Regiment "The Lost and Forlorn" out for their first game last night. Went up against a fun Genestealer cult l...
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