Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The "Value" of Statistics

So I figure it's been a long time since I threw a post up. Sorry for my absence, I have been busy with one thing or another. However, there is one positive from being away from the game for a bit. I had a chance recently to observe and host a Tournament here at our FLGS. I am usually wrapped up in thought about my own game, and what I will be bringing to the table, and as a result I usually don't think to much about the aspects of the game. As I passed one of the tables, I looked over and realized it was going to be a no holds, all or nothing brawl between a Very shooty I.G. army versus a very assaulty marine army.

This got me to thinking about the differences in overall stat lines between the two armies. With IG having the 3's and marines having the superior 4's across the grid, it proved to be a very interesting game. So lets think for a moment about the two major stat characteristics; Weapon Skill (WS) and Ballistic Skill (BS).

Ballistic Skill
This is a pretty straight forward system, and as such doesn't require much thought on a usual basis. Simply look at your number, and then subtract if from 7 and ta da, that's what you need to score a hit. The system is simple, basically following a pattern of for every point in your stat, the less it will take to hit. Obvious after years of playing, and probably for the newer gamers, it isn't hard to understand. Of course the BS 6+ models have an interesting system, but it is pretty easy to get, and there are only like 3 or 4 models out there with it (I am lumping all of the Phoenix Lords together as one here for the sake of argument).

But really, for every point you have, it is directly proportionate to the ease at which you hit.

Weapon Skill
Now here is where the system gets a little tricky if you aren't careful. We all know that the same WS will hit on 4's, and if you're is higher you hit on 3's. But what about when your WS is what seems to be ludicrously higher than the opponents. For instance, I have a WS 8 Greater Daemon. Ha Ha! That means those pesky Space Marines hit me on... wait, What!? 4's!?!? That's right, until you hit double plus 1, its 4's. Now what is up with this picture? And Visa Versa, Skarbrand is WS 10, and he still hits those crappy WS 2 conscripts on 3's. There is a way to force my enemies to hit me on 5... should I be hitting them on twos if that's the case?

Now... I will pull back here because even though I can see why it makes sense that I should hit on twos... let's think about this in the manner in which it is. A Game Rule.

Ballistic Skill requires nothing from your opponent except being courteous enough to loose some models at the end of the shooting. There is no risk here; you simply line up to fire, pull the trigger, hope they take enough to take a moral test, and hope they run away. Especially in 5th, since there are no modifiers for taking an exceptionally high amount of wounds. Just take a test, and your fine.

But! Remember, in 5th... it is much harder to kill from a distance. With the amount of cover required, and the fact you must kill all of a unit to really guarantee it won't be a problem later, killing from a far is much more difficult between the two. So, it makes sense that Ballistic Skill require a bit more of a direct reward for each bump in skill.

Remember these words well when you think about close combat. Sweeping Advance. This one rule can be a big eye-opener when you think about the To-Hit chart. Yes, it is much harder in comparison to hit in close combat vs. shooting, but when you get a few shots on a unit and kill one or two... it is almost impossible to wipe them completely out, versus getting a good sweeping advance result in melee.

For example. I (with my Crimson Fists) took at Tactical Squad (remember these guys aren't exactly master's of close combat with only two attacks each on the charge) and ran into a squad of 10 Chaos Space Marines. With average, and somewhat lack luster rolls on my Power Fist, I managed to kill... a whopping 1. He on the other hand, rolled terrible, and didn't score a single kill on me. He rolled his moral, failed, and rolled a one for the sweeping advance initiative test. I rolled a 4, and proceeded to consolidate having killed all of them now.

So, after doing the work to kill one man, I killed all 10 and moved into a piece of cover to make ready for the enemy's rebuttal. But seriously. This to me underscore the simple fact that close quarters is a much more risky maneuver, but has a much higher reward pay-off if it goes your way.

So in the end, look at what seems to be the lack of reasoning behind the numbers, and realize that it is in fact a balance to keep the game from being assault unit driven. After all, Ballistic Skill is a simple measure of how god the user is with a riffle. Weapon Skill is a measure of how well you fight in close quarters... but with un-cooperative opponents. WS is almost an Offensive AND defensive stat when you think about it's use in the game.

So what do you think of the differences? Do you think it is for balance, or does GW need to see to this when 6th rolls around?

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