Friday, 30 December 2016

Stonethrowers always deviate - some further thoughts

A while back I started thinking about why having stone throwers always deviate made them so ineffective. It occurred to me that both the problem and the answer lie in the 2d6 bell curve.

Using my model (with a 20-strong unit arranged in two ranks of 10) the unit was hit only in the shaded part of the curve: always on a 2 (2d6 - 2 remember in the "always deviates" model, so no deviation) and a 3 (1" deviation of a 1" template, not covering the maximum models but still hitting some); and less likely on a 4, 5 or 6 (4 inches of deviation, so a roll of 6, only hit the unit when the deviation is along the axis of the unit, i.e. 2 times out of 12).

By increasing the modifier, and so moving the hits into the taller part of the bell curve, the stone thrower becomes progressively more effective.

And it turns out that at 2d6 - 3, it's similar in effectiveness to the 50-50 "dodge" save:

This gives a median of three casualties and a mean of four, although with the mode at zero. So fairly close to the dodge option, and to a bolt thrower.

The only down-side to this is that the maximum deviation is now 9 inches, so the likelihood of the truly comical mis-fire is reduced.

My hope though is that this gives stone throwers a distinct niche without the worry of them being over-powered. They will be highly variable, and very effective when they don't deviate by much (and hence might seem over-powered in individual games) but in the long run not reliably good. So quite good orc-y weapons, and seemingly worth trying in a game or two!

Sunday, 25 December 2016

Thinking about Rogue Trader while watching Rogue One

I find my lack of franchise loyalty disturbing...

From the opening scenes Rogue One draws you in visually and lifts you. Although it's theoretically long ago it's really a mostly aspirational future - you'd happily live on Scarif or Lah'mu and technology would help you survive on Jedha.

It struck me though that only two of the worlds shown would fit into Warhammer 40K - volcanic Mustafar and Eadu with its unlikely rock formations. Despite the long-standing utility of aquarium plants for miniatures scenery, Scarif is far too clean and functional for a 40K setting: despite being theoritically the future, Rogue Trader actually the Spanish Inquisition with lasguns and space hulks.

Thinking more about living in the Star Wars universe, superficially it doesn't seem too bad: for the majority of the population the Empire is mildly chafing at worst - although your city or planet might get destroyed from space one day; Luke didn't see anything wrong with joining the Imperial Academy before the untimely demise of his aunt and uncle. But approaching it as a gamer its black and white nature is definitely a shortcoming - stormtroopers are fantastically iconic figures but behind them are the faceless operators of the Death Star, and they themselves are mindless killers (when they can shoot at all).

It may not seem much more conscionable to take the part of the Imperium but (notwithstanding that it's all a bit of a giggle) in its own way it's at least as palatable, not least because you can chose between internal conflict and external conflict (shooting genestealers is OK). Looking at it another way, the Star Wars universe is primarily a story-telling setting and, like Middle Earth, creaks a bit when asked to be a gaming setting.

So, having enjoyed the film, what's my take out at such time as my paint queue allows me to look at 40K?
  1. Hire better location scouts
  2. Urban scenes need a lot more civilians - at least until the shooting starts