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Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Guest Article: Evaluating Units


A nice outlook on how to use Internet knowledge whilst applying it to your own gameplay by babelfisk.

Today I am going to talk about math hammer, unit analysis, and how to use these and other tools in list building and game play.

A lot of people talk about how unit x is better than unit y, or this codex is better than this other one. Other people then respond that the first people don't use said unit right, or that it is a subtle thing, or what have you. Then the discussion devolves into poop throwing in the finest traditions of our primate ancestors.

When you look at a unit in order to try to decide if you want to put in your army you need to understand what that unit does and how it will work in relation to your army and your play style. Using a unit that everyone says is the best in the game does you no good if you use it for a role it sucks at. You can wrap Drago in a block of paladins all day long, but if all you do with him is guard an objective he does you little good.

Conversely, units that are considered weak can be used quite effectively if you have a good understanding of what the unit does and put it in situations that compliment said units strengths. This does not mean every weak unit can be made amazing if you just build the list right. Some things are just bad (stupid Pyrovore). It means that you can get better use from your units when you understand their strengths and weaknesses, regardless of if the rest of the world thinks they are awesome or useless.

Math hammer is a powerful but limited tool used to help understand what your units are good at. When you use math hammer you should not be looking for "unit X does 13.339 shooting wounds on Marines a turn". You should be looking for "unit X is good at killing Marines when it gets to shoot them". You then look at other things unit X does, like "unit X falls apart like wet cardboard in close combat", "unit X is expensive compared to similar units in my codex and others" and "unit X has short range guns that will get off one turn of shooting before getting charged".

In the end you have a list of traits that your unit has, positive and negative. By gaining this sort of understanding of the unit you can build your list and play your army in a way that negates weaknesses and emphasizes strengths. At times a weak unit may be exactly what you need to fill a gap in your list. At others, a strong unit may just not work with what you run.

I will use the Nid army I am currently running as an example. The army runs a lot of T6, with two Tyrants, a T-Fex, a Tervigon, and Hive Guard. It uses Venomthropes for early game survivablity. It plays as a delayed fist;T6 + Venoms keep it alive as it advances to the center early, then it hits hard and fast.

Raveners and Genestealers are very similar units, with Genestealers normally being looked at as slightly superior. I run Raveners with great success because they fit well with the way the army plays-they stay inside the main body early game, using Venoms and the higher threat of the MC's to keep alive. Mid game they have the range to jump out and drop multiple rends on important targets.

Genestealers lose out in this case because the Raveners bring more to the army than Genestealers do. In a different army, Genestealers could be superior. Math hammer helps me choose by giving me a solid idea of how many Rends to expect, and how long to expect them to stay alive vs various shooting and in combat.

The most important thing to take away from all of this is that knowing what your units can do and how to use them is far more important than how good or bad the rest of the world thinks the unit is. A deep understanding of your Codex will win you far more games than spending hours arguing. Internet boards and math hammer can help you gain understanding, help you gain insight, but it is how well you take advantage of the strengths of your units that will win you games.

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