|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?
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.
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.
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.
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.