Thursday, February 7, 2013

Another Look at Marauders

When I was reviewing the new Warriors of Chaos book my review was derailed by Mac issues…and after it caused me to have to restart two or three times I put a lot less effort into communicating my thoughts clearly and, to be honest, irritation and frustration no doubt colored some of my responses. Sure, that sounds odd when you think about how I gushed over the quantity and quality of choices…I even found a use for the wildly overpriced Forsaken. At the same time, I think I was pretty overcritical of the Marauders.

Lets go back and look at them from a slightly different angle. For a WS4, S3, T3 guy, they are actually pretty affordable. Better yet, who out there would not GLADLY pay 2 points per model on anything but the cheapest crap troop to give their guy a 6+ ward? I would gladly pay it for my Black Orcs…Goblins…Gor…ungor…Lothern Sea Guard…Dwarf Warriors…Men at Arms…Knights Errant…and those are the ones I might hesitate a half second before paying that price. Ironically, for some of those I add much more in cost than the 18ish% save rate I gain...but I irrationally put a higher value on the chance to save than its actual mathematical value.

My more favored stuff like the Arachnarok Spider, Mangler Squig, Dragon Ogres, Dragon Ogre Shaggoth, etc? Oh, yeah. I would pay that cost without even thinking about it. Auto-take. So it is well worth it for Marauders with their stat line even if it is a mildly inefficient use of points (adding 33% to the cost of the model for an overall improvement in durability of less than 33% is inefficient; it is only a 33% improvement if they only ever fight in close combat where the enhanced parry save is in force and never are subjected to shooting, magic, LD tests, etc.)

 For that matter, Goblins envy their stat line. Dwarf Warriors envy their price. Gor will pick them apart, but then again, the rest of the Warriors core will slaughter the Gor or anything else the Beastmen have in their Core. Or Special. Or Rare.

And there we get to the gist of it.

Sure, in a vacuum the Marauders are not too high priced. They become about right when you improve them, but by then they are getting too expensive in comparison to the Chaos Warriors. Or, alternatively, the Chaos Warriors are too cheap (see Math-Hammer non-sense at the end of this post). But they are not in a vacuum…they are in a book comprising sections including characters, rare and special.

And while I might trade Marauders for Gor, lets say, straight across…unmarked Marauders, that is…would I trade Marauders and Chaos Warriors for Gor and Ungor? Uh…no. And while I would dearly love to have a line of Repeater Crossbowmen lined up next to my Chaos Warriors in lieu of those Marauders and their zero inch range, I would not trade the Chaos Warrior option for anything in the Dark Elf core section. I would rather have the Marauders than Men at Arms straight up…and so forth. It is not the Marauders alone that must be considered, it is how they perform their role in the book they are in relative to their points.

And therein we see part of the problem.

If I have a guy with 1 S3 attack and have the option to give him 2 attacks by marking him and thus giving him Frenzy, it is hard not to. I come close to doubling his overall effectiveness but only add 33% to the cost. Unlike the save, that DOES seem to be an efficient use of points. When I need to pay 3 times as much for another model as I do for another attack, it seems an excellent value to corn it up and take frenzy.

 If I plan for these guys to die in droves but be a problem for high armor guys, it seems silly not to give them S5 via Great Weapon. And of course maximizing the attacks of each model in that scenario is a must, so along comes khorne. But suddenly I have nearly doubled the cost of the model.

And therein lies the rub; the basic, unenhanced Marauder on the surface seems to be a very good value in the book. 50 Marauders in a block will take up a ton of space and do they job I need them to do…namely, pin the opponent in place with superior numbers until my high-priced death units get involved. And when 50 Marauders cost the same as 21.4 unimproved Chaos Warriors it even makes a kind of sense. (Unless you math-hammer it out…if you horde both up, which you would do with the Warriors to take up the same frontage, the Warriors end up with MORE attacks than the Marauders and there are still 16 CW standing when the Marauders are dead…so yeah, even for pure cheapness, Marauders do not make sense.)

But the temptation is always there to enhance those Marauders…a mark here, an equipment upgrade there…and suddenly the price difference between them and the Chaos Warrior shrinks. You see, with the equipment costing basically the same for a Marauder as a Warrior,  even if you add the same equipment to each at the same cost, the cost ends up being higher for the marauders.

Consider this; 7 basic Marauders cost the same as 3 basic Chaos Warriors. But 7 Marauders with say…mark of tzeentch, light armor and shield to provide a steadfast block with a 5+/5++ close combat saves as 4.118 Chaos Warriors with tzeentch and shield…who are better S, T, I, and armor save with a 3+/5++. So when you start adding on options, suddenly you essentially get “free” Chaos Warriors due to the difference in base cost. Adding 67% to the cost of a Marauder to get the same enhancements you get by adding 18% to the Chaos Warrior means the more enhancements you add, the better value the Chaos Warrior becomes in relation to the Marauder.

Worse, there is no role the enhanced Marauder does better than the enhanced Warrior. Trying to be steadfast? Warriors would have to have the help of a character using the Crown of command in theory…but in sheer ruggedness and combat ability, they probably never NEED steadfast…Going after a low quality horde? The Marauders melt away faster than the Warriors. Going after a high T target? The Warriors damage it faster while absorbing less punishment. Unless you are facing something that ignores or eliminates armor, the Chaos Warrior is better in every respect.

Yet I still think the Marauders are a valuable addition. They just make much more sense taken with little to no upgrade. Why do they make sense? Because you might run into someone rolling the lore of metal…or the engine of the gods…or some other armor-ignoring thing such as…oh, I don’t know, every #$%^&%$# Skaven weapon). And then when you sit there having paid a high price for an all-armored army only to see your weaselly opponent disregard it. But when they kill EVEN MORE Marauders with no more effort you can simply laugh and say, “Well, I did not have armor on them anyway.”

Of course, outside of that or needing a 60 point mage bunker…I think the Marauder nerf-bat says leave them at home. Or take them because you want a “friendly” game. Unless you are running into a Dwarf, Empire or Elf gunline, or a Skink horde, or a goblin horde or…okay, point taken. There is really no reason to take them now. Even if your opponent tones down his list to face them, you are behind the 8-ball…

Ironically, I started this post out to praise the Marauders. But the truth is, I think Chaos Warriors are pretty reasonably costed for what they do compared to their weaknesses. And I cannot find any permutation of Marauders that provides even a reasonable facsimile of the same value. As you can see if you waste time on the math-hammer portion of the post...Warriors rule, Marauders drool. 

Lets hope I still take a block as I was doing with the last book just because I have them already...

*************** Here begins the math-hammer ***********************

The Marauders seem over priced in comparison to the Chaos Warriors I spent so much time comparing them to. It is almost certain a guy with better WS, S, T, I, and armor is worth more than the 5ish extra points. We can always math-hammer it out. Figure basic model (and one thing I failed to notice is if Chaos Warriors are still required to upgrade). 7 Basic Marauders cost the same as 3 basic Chaos Warriors, so lets pencil it out.

If we line the Marauders up 5 wide with 2 guys in the second row, they all get to fight. 3 Chaos Warriors swing first; 6 attacks needing a 3, so 4 hit. They need 3s to wound so 2.668 wounds. In this round we will round down just to help the old Marauders out. 5 Marauders swing needing 4s to hit. 2.5 hit so we will round up to 3. They need a 5 to wound so 1 wound, 50% chance to save so we will say he fails. Marauders still have a rank so are steadfast and stay 58.3% of the time so we will go another round.

2 Chaos Warriors hit 1.3 times, say 1 hit, .667% change to wound, we will round up the wound this time so now 4 Marauders left. 4 swings back, 2 hits, a 1 in 3 chance to wound…we will say it wounds, but this time the 50% chance saves. No longer steadfast, now the Marauders need a 6 to stay around so there is actually a 58.4% chance they run…but they are rolling hot dice for this and stay. I am trying to make a case for them so will give them every advantage.

2 Chaos Warriors hit 1.3 times, and if this wounds then over the last three rounds the statistical probability of 2.668+.667+.667 wounds = 2.002 and we are right on schedule. 3 Marauders get to swing back, 1.5 hits, 1 in three chance to wound, we have already given 2 hits in that circumstance so they will miss this time. Again 58.4% chance they run…

Will 2 Marauders take out 2 Chaos Warriors when 7 could not take out 3?

But lets change the game a little bit. Lets say we want them to stick around so we are giving the Chaos Warriors a shield and the mark of tzeentch to give them a 3+/5++ in close combat. We will make the Marauders as rugged as possible with light armor, shield and the same mark. Now we need 10 Chaos Warriors and 17 Marauders. I can already tell this will not end well for the Marauders. I will line the Warriors up just 5 wide (instead of the 6 they should be or possibly even 10 wide). The Marauders will go 7 wide to give them the most possible attacks.

The Warriors go first and have 15 attacks. 10 hit, .6.67 wound so say 6 wound. 1 saves with armor, 1.65 save with ward so lets say 2 save, they take 3 wounds. 14 left. 14 attacks, 7 hit. 2.3 wound. Lets round up to 3. 1.5 Warriors save with armor, .33 with ward. To keep it vaguely fair, I will let a second warrior save, but next round-off, he goes down. So 9 Warriors left. No, we will take the 17%...we want the Marauders to win and are going to twist numbers. 8 warriors left.

13 attacks hit 8.67 times = 9 hits (for math ease with wounds), 6 more Marauders wounded. 1 saves with armor, this time the ward whiffs. 9 Marauders attack with fury, hitting 4.5 times, say 5 =1.65 wounds = 2 wounds. 1.334 save base, we are well over 1 more saving, so all that fury is wasted as no Warriors fall.

13 attacks hit 8.67 times = 9 hits (for math ease with wounds), 6 more Marauders wounded. 1 saves with armor, this time the ward whiffs. 4 Marauders attack, hitting twice, .33 wound, and somehow it goes unsaved.

12 attacks hit 8 times, 5.339 wounds = 5, we will let one save with armor…even if the other saves with ward he is fleeing. Or dying next round to a blizzard of attacks.

In other words, when you make the Marauders better…they get worse in comparison to the improved Warriors. Much, much worse….

But what if instead we go offensive? The Marauders cackle madly as they take up their great weapons and khorne, knowing the superior Warrior initiative is now irrelevant. This is just a slugfest. 19 Marauders show up so armed to take on 11 Warriors. This should be fun. 19 Marauders hit 10 times (as always, we will be nice to the beleaguered Core guys. Their bare chests and bdsm-inspired gear almost require it.) 6.67 wounds rounds up to 7, this is promising. 1 Warrior saves, so 6 will fall. The Warriors have 22 attacks, 14.67 hit, so 14, 11.67 wounds, we will round down to just 11. 5 Warriors now face 8 Marauders. Oh, and with the Marauders NOT having more ranks (I leave it to you to figure out how 19 got to attack…I guess I went 10 wide with the Warriors) they run 97.2% of the time. This time they roll Insane Courage. 8 attacks, 4 hit, 2.668 wound so call it 3, and no Warrior saves. Just 2 warriors left, but on their way out the door the other three still get to swing. 10 attacks, .667 hit this time proper math says 7 wound, so 1 Marauder. 2 Warriors v. 1 Marauder…

That was actually much closer. In fact, this is the closest fight yet. Never mind the Warriors have 58% more points…

Mathhammer says heads up, equal points in Marauders loses quite handily to Chaos Warriors.  In every permutation. Outside forces could affect this...the aforementioned armies that ignore armor, for example. And that is where value must be found in Marauders because it certainly cannot be found in the WoC book.


kennyB said...

I also have found great value in increasing my strength every chance I get. With the double bonus of increasing wound probability and reducing save probability without taking any extra frontage space, it has been worth it to me every time. It may not work out mathematically (I've never tried) but even against weak troops I would rather have an easier time wounding than a better defense.

Darth Weasel said...

Exactly. Kind of like how many of us favor extra attacks over re-rolls; mathematically it is incorrect but the POTENTIAL to do more wounds makes it worthwhile.

I did work both out mathematically back in 7th

kennyB said...

I remember. You used to try to convince me the DE were better because they had re-rolls rather than extra attacks. I have never and will never feel that way in any situation, and mathematics will never convince me otherwise because of personal experiences. The problem with odds is they don't even out within a single game of Warhammer. There is not even a claim that they will. And having them even out theoretically over a lifetime or some such thing makes for a poor shot at winning a 4 hour game based on them ;)

Darth Weasel said...

I had a game a couple weeks ago against...Phillip maybe? Where he initially had 2 hits, rerolled with hatred and had 14 or 15 hits. Ouch.

For the most part though, you and I have the same theory; we would rather have the chance to do 20 wounds than the probability of doing 5.

That is why I routinely use a Wargor in the Beastmen to give them Frenzy instead of Primal Fury. Yes, I would do more wounds over the course of a game with the Primal Fury re-roll...but I would rather have more attacks even knowing it is overall worse.

Doing 5 wounds on 10 attacks is nice...but doing 8 with 20 attacks is just more fun.