Saturday, September 24, 2011

Snortin' the good stuff...

by Anonymous Foodie

Not what you'd see in Dark Eldar schools

 There was a point brought up in the comments section of one of my other posts, and it focuses on an idea that has been around since the dawn of time (or at least 40k).

The effectiveness of Wyches in combat is oft debated as being "an agoniser and a few punches that may do something for you".  It's the age-old addage of "How many S3 does it take to get through Power Armor?".

But there's something big that people aren't looking at when they say such things...

The effects of combat drugs can easily take a "meh" unit to rockstar status (at least for your run-of-the-mill troops).

Mathhammer is a two-edged sword.  On the one hand, it gives us a numerical idea of what "should" happen in any given circumstance.  Chances of success help us decide whether something is a good idea, or at the very least worth a last ditch effort.

On the other hand, dice have a nasty habit of being random.  While they'll average out over the course of 4-5 games (hopefully), the 5-10 in your hand may be ready to fall down with nothing above a 3.

But though the dice fall as they may, I like to have at least an idea of what I (hopefully) can count on doing.  So let's take a quick look at Wyches and what they can do.

For those unfamiliar, Wych Cult units (and as an option on some HQ's) come equipped with Combat Drugs.  These fickle things grant a random bonus before the start of each game (you never know what will be in vogue at the time).  There are 6 possibilities;  +1 WS, +1 S, +1 A, Re-roll to-Wound, Run 3d6 and take-the-best (SuperFleet), or a Pain Token (granting Feel No Pain right off the bat).

Two of these (that last two in the list) are actually more defensive in nature.  Feel No Pain is an obvious defensive measure (although it also helps lead to Furious Charge in the future), but SuperFleet is defensive in the sense that the now 5" fleet average helps you get into cover more readily, or into assault where you enjoy your 4++ and can't be shot.  Some will say that the extra range to get into combat still counts as offense, but since it does not actually help you do more damage (and has by far many other uses... running towards objectives anyone?) I lump it with the Pain Token.

This leaves a 2/3 chance to get something that's pure and simple Killy.  Now, what say we take a quick look to see just how killy this is?

Your basic Wych Squad (10 Wyches, including Hekatrix with Agoniser) is a decent combat unit.  How decent?  Let's find out... (numbers listed as special weapon attacks/basic attacks)

Wyches charging 10 Marines (Sgt, Pistol/CCW)

Wyches:  4/27 attacks, 2/13.5 hits, 1/4.5 wounds, 1/1.5 casualties = 2.5 Dead Marines
Marines: 3/6.5 attacks, 1.5/3.25 hits, 1/2.16 wounds, .5/1.08 casualties = 1.6 Dead Wyches

Oh snap, you mean even if you forget to roll your drugs your Wyches will still win against a non-combat marine squad?  Even doubling the results for a quick-and-dirty Assault Marine variant, it's 2.5 to 3.2.  So the Assaulterines are only a little ahead because you forgot your own rules.

Also, if you got the Pain Token result, you're down to .8 losses (let's round up to 1, in case the Sgt has a power weapon and ignores FnP).  This also drops the Assaulterine estimation to 1.5-2 losses - still less than the 2.5 you're inflicting.

And just in case you're going to argue against granting the Wyches the charge, non-charging, non-drugged Wyches still get 1.75 kills on the Marine Squad, putting them ahead of the Marines (if only just).

So now that the "Oh crap I forgot my rules" scenario is out of the way, what happens when we actually play the army?

+1 WS
Wyches:  4/27 Attacks, 2.6/18 Hits, 1.3/6 Wounds, 1.3/2 Casualties = 3.5 Dead Marines

Basically on the whole you bag another marine out of the deal.

+1 S
Wyches:  4/27 Attacks, 2/13.5 Hits, 1/6.75 Wounds, 1/2.25 Casualties = 3.25 Dead Marines

Oh really?  The +WS bonus is actually better for killing marines than the extra strength, if marginally.  Though this is largely because the Agoniser is not dependent on Strength for wounding.

+1 Attack
Wyches:  5/36 Attacks, 2.5/18 Hits, 1.25/6 Wounds, 1.25/2 Casualties = 3.25 Dead Marines

Matching the +S blow for blow.  Quality and Quantity are getting equal footing here.

Re-roll To-Wound
Wyches 4/27 Attacks, 3/20.25 Hits, 1.5/6.75 Wounds, 1.5/2.25 Casualties = 3.75 Dead Marines

Looks like we have a winner!  Re-rolling to-Wound pulls ahead by a leg (that's about a 4th of a marine, right?) !!

So Wyches are a fairly effective combat unit on their own.  Push the green button, though, and you have a squad of Bane-wannabees.

So what's this mean on the table-top?

Wyches are cool.


  1. Seconded, wyches are defo cool.
    Drugs are cool, I don't care what they tell you in school :)

  2. Either way Wyches are a nasty tarpit. Send them at hammernators or a psyfleman. Wyches are great. :)

  3. The problem is you're comparing a dedicated close combat unit with limited utility to a tactical squad. I'd be shocked if the Wyches weren't better than the marines.

  4. Sorry, while the article is written amusingly, the fundamental premise is flawed. I can use exactly the same reasoning to make Howling Banshees look incredible.

    I would posit that a Dedicated Combat Unit wants to be able to beat another army's line troops either on the charge (obviously not ideal tactically, because of the fact they'll be shot to death) or in the second combat phase.

    Wyches narrowly win out in the first round, before ending up, what 4 phases against high Ld/Fearless/Stubborn foes here?

    I like Wyches, and am not ragging on them or you, but this is poor analysis of the unit.

  5. I used Marines as the example because "Can it tackle Marines" is still the largely accepted bar.

    You'll also note that I did compare them to assault marines, for just this reason.

    Wyches charging assault marines (or space wolves, etc) will still come out ahead by a bit. It'd take a bit more work than I'm willing to do at just this moment to figure out the full drawn-out combat, but the idea is that the Wyches rely on higher Initiative to get in a couple more kills each round, reducing the attacks coming at them.

  6. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  7. What does the .75 in this line mean? ...

    "Wyches charging 10 Marines (Sgt, Pistol/CCW) .75"

  8. Sorry - I wasn't clear enough I guess, in that I don't consider Assault Marines Dedicated Assault Units either. Any Assault Unit that needs help or time to beat an enemy line unit (and Tacs are ofc a good baseline) is by definition bad.

    The fact that the game mechanics are angled away from close combat doesn't help - but most CC units are actually horribly underpowered.

  9. @ Brother Loring

    The .75 was a math note to myself that I forgot to take out >.<. Thanks for the catch, got it edited out.

  10. Well the main point is you want your assault units hitting their soft units. It is a stupid move to try and assault his assault units, that's what shooting is for.

    Dakka the choppa and choppa the dakka.

  11. Nice! Thank you Foodie. Do more! Do MOre! I have began to piece together my army. I have a unit of helions, a battleforce, and a unit of warriors. I like these comparisons. Can you do HQ's next please?

  12. @Foodie, I enjoyed the article it was a good lesson on how to mathhammer if people haven't done it. However, I have a few things to point out. One is for your arguement and two are challenging it.

    A: compare the points costs also please 10marines, missile melta/ 10wyches with your workings. I am guessing it's safe to say that the wyches come out 30-50 points cheaper than the marines.

    B: Please tell me how you are getting 10 wyches across the field safely. No sir the word "raider" will not work. An observant or intelligent player will shoot incubi/wyche/warrior raiders in that order most the time. Raider rush isn't hard to deal with so how are you getting the raiders there?

    C: what happens if the marines are in cover, do you have cover, will rapid fire bolters scare you if you aren't in a transport? I suggest a grenade launcher you're already coming out ahead on the points side of thing add a Torment launcher.

    Are Wyches bad, no. But can they really handle something like a squad of grey hunters who just rapid fired bolters into them as the marines sit in a crater or forest, sadly no. Many may say I'm telling superman to swallow kryptonite and not die, so I'll give a few other examples.

    -assault marines- move faster and have tons of attacks also if BA have FnP

    -terminators- be it 5 or 10 terminators that's still a ton of power weapon attacks. Yes the witches should get the charge here though, terminators other than shrike termis, are slow and easy to see coming.

    - Hormogants, warriors, termagants- these units can either match you in speed, fnp, or shoot you on their way in. warriors crank a ton of attacks out along with a heavy weight of shots.

    -Thunderwolves- What are your plans here? needing roughly 6's to wound and more than likely being charge since they have a better range than you do. Tossing just as many attacks as you have at you. Sure they're expensive but those wyches hurt you more than just losing a squad they let those thunderwolves get in range of the rest of your army slingshotting them forward.

    The point I'm making is they aren't good enough. Wyches should of been that close combat rock that every codex tries to have. Retort with your "well incubi. . ." well, incubi are expensive and draw a ton of fire. Can wyches kill marines? Sure, but that's not saying much. Torrent fire from warriors can do that, venoms can do it, helions can do it. I will give some ground though and say:

    -cheap at 10 points a guy. . .uhhh girl
    -5-15 man squads is nice
    -a blast pistol gives them a little diversity
    -tons of weapon options.

    These few things do help them, yet the wyches just need a tad bit more.

  13. They don't need to be the rock when you have some much AP 2 fire. Make them terminators, and the whole DE concept (and balance) go right out the window

  14. Don't forget that wyches at I6 will strike even before Ragin BAs on the charge, so that means fewer attacks comin' back at you.

    Also, I see Rionnay hasn't read the codex. Otherwise he'd know that Wyches come standard with assault grenades, so cover is a moot point. Also, he'd know that 10 wyches are are actually 75 points cheaper than melta-missile marines. That's a huge difference compared to that 30-50. You only hit that 30-50 range once you start gearing up the wyches. And ANOTHER THING! Saying the Raider doesn't count as a means of transportation for Wyches? Alright then. If we're gonna take core concepts out of our armies, you can only use Scouts in your marines. No Power Armor for you! See how dumb that sounds? Also, when you start comparing wyches to Thunder Cav and Termies. Well DUH wyches are gonna have a rough time. Termies are ELITES and Thunder Cav, well we all know about those things. Of COURSE wyches, simple 10 points a pop Troops are gonna get rolled. That's like comparing a Predator to a Rhino! Besides, what DE player worth his drugs leave his transports without at least the 5+ Flicker? I mean, even the sturdier Chimeras and Rhinos tend to pop smoke on the first turn, and Raiders do it better cause they can get that 4+ cover and move 24" on turn 1, getting their precious knives more than halfway to the chopping block.

    Now that that's done, an example of wyches shining is when a 10-man squad of my wyches took down both a 30-strong Ork Boy squad with Claw-Nob, AND a 10-man Gretchin squad at the same time in only 2 rounds of combat. And that's without any help from drugs (I'd rolled a one, so they ran fast that game).

  15. Actually, the Wyches (10, Haywires, Hekatrix, Agoniser, Raider, Flickerfield) are 5 points more expensive than Tacticals (10, Melta [should be flamer], missile [should be multi-melta] rhino, dozer blade) - so let's stop pretending we aren't comparing like for like here.

    TheGraveMind almost makes a good point - except that it misses mine entirely. Wyches simply don't have the quality to act as a linebreaker, so their stats on the charge, as well as being underwhelming, are somewhat irrelevant when we discuss them in the role they can perform - not what this article (ostensibly) aims to do.

    Apart from Rionnay being off on cost, spot on.

    Da Warboss - maybe, but only if you don't need that to pull double-duty as your only ranged anti-tank. Oh, you do? Ah.

    TheNeverThere almost requires a dissertation to show where and how he's wrong, but iu've already covered cost.let's just mention anecdotes, briefly - they mean nothing. This is a dice game. Shit happens. Regardless, Orks have no save, and suffer from being rolled by Fearless, especially when you have a weaker unit to butcher and modify combat res ridiculously in your favour! You would RATHER fight both unbits in CC at the same time!!!

    Apologies for typoes, doubtless there are many, typing on my phone.

  16. @ Rhionnay

    Not nearly enough characters allowed to answer all of those as much as they deserve, so we'll have to settle with the short version.

    If you're going to tell me that part of my army automatically doesn't work, despite my tactics, I'll just say the same to you. We can both pretend like we're 8, it'll be fun.

    Marines in cover? I'll just use my free grenades.

    Terminators/BAssalterines/other units that are way harder to kill for anything than basic Marines... I'll use other parts of my army to support my Wyches. As T_K_E loves to point out, they're not a linebreaker. It's true, they're not a kill-all beatstick. They're a 10-point troop.

    There is a definite limit as to what I'll throw them at and expect to have a positive yield.

    Not good enough? You're entitled to your opinion. But again, I never said they were an end-all beat stick. DE don't have one, actually. Nob Bikers, ThunderCav... we don't have that style of unit. Unless maybe you count an Archon with a Huskblade that's already Soultrapped something. 6 S6 attacks that insta-gibb on touch? Sure.

    Dark Eldar (like their wayward cousins) instead rely on supporting each other, using superior speed to outmaneuver and overcome the foe.

  17. Rionnay, Yes stuff dies really fast with DE. I look forward to the challenge of learning the DE army. Yes they will die faster than MEQ, but that is the fun of it!

  18. @Theneverthere, you sir are a clown. Finding the pdf and looking it up isnt hard. Now as I was saying a raider of wyches shouldn't get across the field that's the fault of the opponent. on the cost issue I was not including a raider. I was including a leader, agoniser, blast pistol and 10 witches if you see the need go with a phantasm grenade launcher. I suggest you think about the defensive grenades. That will for sure give you the edge you need. Now then if you have any other issues with what I said please I would respect you knowing what you were talking about.

    For everyone killing 30 orks and 10 man gretchin squad isn't rough nor hard. Wyches can crank out ton of attackes it's not hard to kill a unit that you're going first hitting them on 3's and they don't get saves. . .ok yes a 6+ is a save but really. As a tyranid player let me tell you how many 6+s I make. . .few to none.

    @Foodie, please remember you are talking to another xenos player :-) I understand and see that they need support. I think it would be better to write about HOW you plan on supporting them than trying to put the unit on a pedestal. At the start of your article you really were trying to make wyches sound like the linebreaker of DE. . .sadly you understand they are not. I'm simply saying wyches should be a tad bit better. Allow them to have hit and run or counter attack. Yes counter attack would work for me. :-)

    I am suggesting a "how wyches work" article instead of a "wyches are cool look they kill 3 marines a turn. . .right?"

  19. @ Rhionnay

    The only thing I said at the start of the article was how I wrote this in response to someone telling me they shouldn't have won against a few terminators.

    Unless you're referring to the "rockstar" comment, in which case it's also side-noted that that's in-so-far as basic troops go. Not Thunderwolf style units.


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