Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Raveners and Rending Claws... The Analysis

This is a lengthy post. If you don't have time come back to it later, or if you don't want to read through an exhaustive analysis including much joyous maths, skip to the bottom.

Ok, so as promised I will go in depth on the reasons behind the omission of rending claws on my Raveners in this Ard Boys list. As per usual, my partner in crime SinSynn will be coming along shortly to tell you all how wrong I am. ;D

To begin, please rest assured that I did not arrive at this decision lightly. As with almost everything else around this game, I devoted approximately 10r quanta of effort to this decision, where r is equal to the amount of effort one should reasonably invest into something that is, after all, just a bunch of plastic dolls and dice.

That being said... on to the analysis!

As with any analysis, we need to be able to perform some sort of fair evaluation. Luckily, points give us a VERY good way to compare the capabilities of the non-rending and rending species of Raveners. We have a very "apples to apples" setup here.

A "regular" Ravener clocks in at a thrifty 30 points. An "upgraded" Ravener is 35.

In this analysis I will be looking at the offensive output of 6 Regular Raveners versus 5 Rending Raveners. That's because for the cost of upgrading 5 raveners to include rending, you essentially pay for a sixth Ravener.

With me so far? Good.

So now that we know what we are comparing, we'd better set up our "tests." We can't (and shouldn't) test out every possible scenario in the world, but there are a few "benchmark" tests that I think it would be valuable to perform (and that I did, in fact, perform).

-First, how do each of these units do at killing basic Marines?
-Second, how do they fare against Feel No Pain Marines?
-Third, how well do they slaughter TH/SS Terminators?
-Fourth, how are they at killing vehicles which have moved at combat speed?
-Finally, how adroitly do they damage/destroy vehicles which have moved at cruising speed plus?

All of these questions we can answer definitively, through the marvel of modern mathematics (SinSynn groans).

Now at this point I'm going to emphasize a personal rule - nay, a personal philosophy - that I adhere to.

Math can inform decisions. 

It cannot make decisions. 

Ultimately decisions are based upon a human being deciding what he or she values. Math cannot tell us what we value, even in the context of a wargame. But it can identify the most optimal ways to pursue what we value. And that is certainly helpful.

So mathhammer should be neither worshiped nor reviled, but instead viewed as what it is - a very useful tool, but not our master.

Too deep?

Well F-off, it's my blog! ;D

Alright, onward!

For this analysis I'm going to also assume that the Swarmlord is bestowing a single buff on the unit.


Against MEQ, the 2 x Scything Talons (2ST) start with 30 attacks. They will hit (8/9) of the time (that's 2/3 hitting the first time, and then 2/3 of the 1/3 hitting on the second attempt). That's 26.67 hits (Yowza!). With Swarmlord granting Furious Charge that's 17.78 wounds, with 5.92 dead Marines on average.

The Rending Claws (RC) start with 25 attacks (remember there's only 5 of them). They only reroll 1's so they will hit (7/9) of the time, which is still pretty darned good. That gives you 19.5 hits. Of those 19.5 hits, (1/6) will rend on average, and with Furious Charge another (1/2) will cause normal wounds. That's 3.25 rends and 9.75 normal wounds.

Now, pure maths tells you that you will kill 6.5 marines with that, on average (3.25 rends, 3.25 failed armor saves). Sometimes your opponent is canny though and wraps his wounds correctly and soaks up a rend or two. Best to assume your opponent is not a blithering idiot, as a general rule.

5.92 for 2ST, 6.5 for RC (but with a likelihood of dropping by one or two with wrapping)... pretty much a wash, right? Maybe. We'll come back to that.


Against MEQ with Feel No Pain, my instinct says that RC will come out ahead. This is a scenario where rending shines. Let's see. We did most of the hard math already so we'll skip to the end.

2SC kills 2.96 MEQ with FNP.
RC kills 4.87.

So a pretty clear victory for RC in that scenario.


Let's see about Terminator Equivalents (TEQ):

2SC STILL kills 2.96 TEQ.

RC kills 2.71 if they have storm shields, 3.25 if they are Grey Knights, and 3.79 if they are normal Terminators (and we see tons of them running around, amirite ;D)?

I'm going to give the win to Rending Claws in this test, though the case could be made that 2SC are better at killing TH/SS Terminators which are the biggest threat. Sort of a wash. We'll come back to that too.

Now we get to the part that's fun.

Twin Scything Talons are fairly unique in 40k in that they allow for rerolls to ALL hits - including rolls to hit against Vehicles. Combine that with Furious Charge and we get a pretty unique package in 2SC Raveners - critters that have the range, strength and rerolls to reliably mess with moving mech in melee.

SinSynn said this:

You'll be much happier when they're running around in a mech parking lot.
Trust me.....nah...probably not. *sigh*
*bangs head against wall repeatedly" 

It's interesting that I'm keeping the 2SC in part specifically because of their effectiveness against vehicles when supported by Swarmy.  Sweet irony!


Against vehicles moving at combat speed, we see:

2SC swing 30 times, hit 22.5 times with their rerolls, get 3.75 pens and 3.75 glances on average.

RCs swing 25 times, hit 14.58 hits (they get to reroll their '1's'). Furious Charge only really helps by making their rolls of "5's" turn into glances - their 6's already pen. So they get 2.43 pens and 2.43 glances.


Against vehicles moving at cruising speed:

2SC swings 30 times, the Raveners hit 9.16 times, pen 1.52 times, glance 1.52 times.
RC swings 25 times, gets .69 pens, .69 glances.

2SC is a pretty clear winner against vehicles.

Now, granted, 2SC need Swarmlord support to be scary against vehicles. RC have more "independence" in that sense.


At the end of the day, my primary conclusion is this:

I put FAR too much thought into this shit.

Secondary conclusions are as follows:

-In certain aspects, 2SC wins, in others RCs win. Overall you could call it a wash.

-Given that it's a wash, one should make note that the combat power of the 2SCs are spread out over 6 bodies with 18 wounds rather than 5 bodies with 15 wounds. Put another way, the 2SCs do the same work, but are 20% more resilient.

-Given that my list also has other units in it that are FAR more effective at putting rends in higher ratios onto infantry than my Raveners (Genestealers) I am less worried about the 2SC's relatively poor ability to deal with MEQ with Feel No Pain.

-Given the Genestealer's poor ability to deal with parking lots that are in any way, shape or form in motion I prefer to have the 2SC loadout to help fill that gap, which they do admirably.

-I admit that, unsupported by the Swarmlord the RCs are better at dealing with vehicles but, hell, at some point personal preference rears its ugly head and to me I just like having the extra body on the field. Raveners don't really operate "away from the herd," they need to be operating at the forward edge of it, within 18" of Swarmy.

Now, if nothing else I think I have definitively PROVEN that I've put some thought into this, even if you don't agree. And please feel free to disagree, but if you do please provide arguments, not just "you suck, no Rending Claws!?! l2playNids you scrub."

If you made it to the end, thanks.

TL:DR - Hahahah. I don't do these. If you can't read three pages of text I don't know what to do for you. ;D