Tuesday, 23 February 2010

The Trouble with Storm Troopers: The 7 Points Problem


Storm Troopers. They take a lot of flak for supposedly being overpriced, and underperforming, what with Chimelta vets being the Prom King of the new IG. Why take glory boys with only 2 special weapon slots, at 18 points each for the first 5no. stormies, then 16 points each for another 5no., when you can take Grenadier Vets, also BS4, which comes with 3no. special weapon slots?


For a price of 10 points per Veteran, this consists of points for each Vet with 3 extra points for carapace. So there is a difference of 7 points standing between a Vet and a Stormie.

WELCOME TO THE 7 POINTS PROBLEM

Eyebrows are raised, questions to be asked:

1. 7 points more for AP3: Are hot-shot lasguns at AP3 really worth it?


2. 7 points more for hot-shot lasguns AND Laspistols: Will being combat ready really be that much better a trade off than 3no. special weapons?


3. 7 points more for flexible deployment options: Are Special Ops justified?


4. 7 points more: Which is better? Vets Or Storm Troopers?

In this post, we will attempt to probe further, look over, and come to a definite conclusion on the subject matter of Storm Troopers Vs. Vets. I know it’s been math-hammered before on other websites, forums, etc, so I guess this is my take on the issue.

Be warned as we enter Mathhammer time!

HOT-SHOT LASGUNS / KILL RATIOS

pew pew pew

Hot-shot lasguns with their much-hyped Ap3 weaponry are regarded as MEQ-killers, despite the downside of the puny S3. So let us compare a squad of 10no. Storm Troopers, with 10no. hotshot lasguns (AP3, thus instant failure to save), shooting at a squad of MEQs:

1. 0.67x10 (to hit) x 0.33 (to damage) = 2.21 average kills.

2. With rapid fire: 0.67x2x10 (to hit) X 0.33 (to damage) = 4.42 average kills.

Therefore: 4.42 average kills for a 10no. squad of hot-shot lasgun Storm Troopers.

Say now, 8no. hotshot lasguns (rapid-fire) AND 2no. plasma guns (rapid-fire AP2, thus instant failure to save):

1. 0.67x2x8 (to hit) x 0.33 (to damage) = 3.54 average kill

PLUS

2. 0.67x4 (to hit) x 0.833 (to damage) = 2.23 average kill

Therefore: 5.77 average kills for a full squad of plasma-kitted-out Storm troopers.

Now, compare with 10no. veterans, with say 10no. shotguns shooting at a squad of MEQ’s:

1. 0.67x2x10 (to hit) x 0.33 (to damage) x 0.33 (failure to save) = 1.46 average kill

Therefore: 1.46 average kills for a normal full squad of shotgun Vets.

Now 7 vets and 3 plasma guns (rapid-fire + AP2):

1. 0.67x2x7 (to hit) x 0.33 (to damage) x 0.33 (failure to save) = 1.02 average kill

PLUS

2. 0.67x6 (to hit) x 0.833 (to damage) = 3.35 average kill

Therefore: 4.37 average kills for a full squad of plasma-kitted-out Veterans

Hmm! Obviously the AP3 weaponry really swings it for the Stormies, even when you take into account the extra plasma weapon that the Vets will have. Considering the MEQ-killing plasma load-outs for an extra 50 points over the vets you get an increase of 1.4 average MEQ kills, or with just basic gear, for the extra 65 points over the vets you get an increase of 2.96 average MEQ kills.

Therefore, for the extra 7 points of the basic cost of a Stormie over a carapace Vet, you’ve just about over doubled the average kill of an MEQ.



So, are hot-shot lasguns really worth it?

As a tool is only as useful as how you apply it, I would say the answer is both “Yes, BUT!” and “No, IF...”

1. YES, but only if you intend to use them in a specific role of MEQ-hunting killing. They are good at killing MEQs, and definitely better at killing MEQ’s than vets puny shotguns, or even triple-fired lasguns (FRFSRF increases the average MEQ kill of the vets by 0.73, still well below rapid-firing hot-shot lasguns. Alas, hot-shots can’t be made to fire in FRFSRF. If they did, they’ll be wow. 6.63 average MEQ kills, in my own made-up fantasyland. Just wow.).

If the enemy have plenty of 3+ save infantry walking around the battlefield ready to be shot at, I say go for it!

2. NO, if in reality there are a variety of battlefield targets, or if the enemy is mechanised, or is entrenched in cover, or even if facing enemies that are not reliant on 3+ save. With the slant towards mechanised in 5th edition, and other juicier targets, e.g vehicles, monstrous creatures, buildings, melta is the way to go and I’m sorry, 3no. meltaguns beat 2no. meltaguns. Aways.

So, 7 points for AP3? Why yes sir please! But only against specifically MEQ opponents, otherwise fuggedaboudid!

COMBAT LOAD-OUT VS SPECIAL WEAPON SLOTS

Storm Trooper assault!

The funny thing is I’ve only recently noticed that ALL storm troopers are equipped with both lasguns AND Laspistols/close-combat (of the AP3 hot-shot variety), therefore meaning they are supposedly combat adaptable, in the same way Marines with their boltguns / bolt pistols and c-c weapon are. This way, you can choose to fire a pistol weapon instead, and rely on an attack rush to try to overwhelm an opponent a technique I normally try and use with Vets anyway, with a varying degree of success.

I know, I know, IG assault?

PREPOSTEROUS!

Let’s Mathhammer again:

Say basic squad of 10 vets with shotguns, they shoot at MEQ’s then charge:

1. Round of shooting: 1.46 average kill (see previous discussion)

On the charge, 9 MEQ’s left (no power weapons) with initiative 4 go first, ignoring sergeants:

2. 0.67x9 (to hit) x 0.67 (to wound) x 0.5 (failure to save) = 2.02 average kill

Say Vets lose 2, now vets (ignoring sergeants) hit back:

3. 0.5x8x2 (to hit) x 0.33 (to wound) x 0.33 (failure to save) = 0.87 average kill

Therefore: Vets shooting, AND assaulting, gain an average kill of 2.33. However, only killing hopefully 1 in combat and losing 2 of their own, fingers crossed they don’t break during the inevitable morale test!

Now with a squad of 10 Storm Troopers with AP3 hot-shot Laspistols (as opposed to the guns, as rapid-fire equals no assault), shooting at MEQ’s then charge:

1. Round of shooting: 0.67 x 10 (to hit) x 0.33 (to damage) = 2.21 average kill

On the charge, 8 MEQ’s left (no power weapons) with initiative 4 go first, ignoring sergeants:

2. 0.67x8 (to hit) x 0.67 (to wound) x 0.5 (failure to save) = 1.79 average kill

Say Stormies lose 2, now they hit back (ignoring sergeants):

3. 0.5x8x3 (to hit) x 0.33 (to wound)x 0.33 (failure to save) = 1.31 average kill

Therefore: Stormies shooting, AND assaulting, gain an average kill of 2.90. Again having lost 2 of their own and killing about 1 in combat, hope they don’t break!

So with the above demonstration, I think we’ve made it clear it would be pretty foolhardy for any IG elements to initiate an assault against a full strength squad of MEQ’s. Definitely not to be done without softening them up with all sorts of small, heavy and any other arms fire!


It’s a great shame Storm Troopers can’t be equipped with the multitude of equipment options that vets get: meltabombs, demo charges, snare mines, camo-cloaks, any heavy weapons, or even that 1no. extra special weapon that could really make the difference. Vets with their flexible equipment options, can load-up on flamers if they really REALLY want to assault, and assault successfully. Power weapons & fists for the Sergeants for both Vets & Stormies make a difference, but again only just as MEQ opponents will tend to equip their squadron leaders in a similar fashion.

It’s also unfortunate due to pistol rules, the AP3 of the Laspistol isn’t inherited in combat (as all pistols regardless are treated as normal close-combat weapons ignoring Strength and AP, unless ‘Special’, e.g. power weapons, force weapons, etc). If it were, the combat-ready Storm Trooper just might be a viable option.

As it is, the bread-and-butter of Storm Troopers is shooting, and shooting well with AP3 and rapid fire. They perform better, but only JUST, over vets in combat, so I am inclined to say the Vets extra special weapon slot is miles ahead better than the Storm Troopers hot-shot lasguns/Laspistols and c-c weapon equipment.

So, 7 points for assault-ready Stormies? No thanks! Forget assault, and stick with rapid firing them hot-shots. As always with Guard, assault only when desperate!

JUSTIFYING SPECIAL OPS

The Stormtroopers infiltrated right into Snikrot's position.

Now, Stormies get to ‘choose’ their Special ops mission which opens up possibilities with deployment not available to Vets. E.g. recon for scout/move thru cover, airborne assault to allow re-rolls of deep strikes, and behind enemy lines for infiltration/first shot pinning. These deployment advantages are much trumped up by Storm Trooper exponents, but are they that much of a unique advantage over that of Vets (who have less deployment options, but greater access to the IG arsenal)?

1. Admittedly Scout, Move Thru Cover, and/or Infiltration are neat little deployment extras that Vets wish they had, so they can bring about their extra special weapon slot and/or heavy weapon options down to bear on the enemy. Strangely, Stormtroopers have a special weapon slot less and lost the ability to take heavy weapons over the past Imperial guard codex reboots, almost as a counterbalance to prevent ‘abuse’ of their respective deployment options.

But Vets DO get to infiltrate, move thru cover, AND scout. It’s called Gunnery Sergeant Harker.

For an extra 55 points, not only do you upgrade a Vet squad with Catachan Devil abilities, you do lose the carapace armour upgrade but gain both stealth AND a heavy bolter you get to move, and fire with. Through him and your new Catachan vets in a Chimera, and thru the magic of the BRB you now have a possible Chimelta with 3 melta guns and a heavy bolter ready to outflank the enemy. Still cheaper, and does the same thing as Stormies (outflanking in a Chimera), but arguably better due to 3no. Special weapons! (Hey you lost your carapace for a vest, but when you’re in a tank, who cares?)

2. Pinning may be a great thing, especially with an AP3 weapon, but due to the infiltration setup it’s unlikely you’ll get 9” away from the opponent to really let rip with the rapid fire you’ll need, so it’s a nice little bonus but realistically when are you ever going to ever see it get used as it is intended?

3. Vets can kind of, sort of deep strike, jumping off the back of Valkyries. Again, they’ll have killing power in their weaponry but will lack in precision. Beware of mishaps!

Stormies being able to re-roll for deepstrike is possibly the best advantage of Special Ops, especially combined with an air cavalry setup for medium-armoured skimmer support, or even just as a ‘counts-as’ Harakoni Warhawk / Elysian Droptroop-esque fluff setup. Personally, I think GW missed a trick here not releasing plastic Stormtroopers (which could double as Grenadiers) with their Vendetta/Valkyrie release, as there are plenty of players (inc. Myself) that this would appeal to.

4. Call me controversial, but the one thing I think could be done to Stormtroopers that would justify me ever taking them seriously in a normal game of 40K is to have them ‘scoring’ (but remaining Elite). That to me would make them a credible threat and a worthy purchase to justify their points cost currently.


Of course, from a previous post I did, I had talked about the subtle possibilities of Storm trooper spam being a viable, and credible option in a game of Planetstrike (6no. Elite slots, and contestable/scoring due to unique rules) especially when keeping the squads as small as possible and using them as one-shot suicide units. It is because of Airborne Assault that I believe Storm Troopers deserve a second glance and a long hard look, especially with regards to Planetstrike in which their capabilities can be fully exploited.

So, 7 points for Special Ops? Mayyyybe. This depends very much on having a clear idea on the role of your Storm Troopers and how you expect them to perform on the battlefield. If unclear, please stay clear!

VETS VERSUS STORM TROOPERS

Vets perform an outflanking manoeuvre to trap the Storm Troopers and their Sentinel back-up.

Just because the Storm Trooper costs more (7 points) than a Veteran, does it mean they are indeed better?

Well why yes, of course!

Err.. Sort of. Let’s see what makes Stormies better:

1. They are clearly better at killing MEQ’s. No doubt about that.

2. They are better at combat, but only marginally better.

3. They are better at deep-striking, but only marginally better at other forms of deployment.

What can Veteran Squads do, that Storm Troopers can’t do?

1. Take 3no. special weapons. Flexible builds galore!

2. Take 1no. Heavy Weapon. Flexible builds galore!

3. Take a vox-caster for Orders (Stormies get no vox!).

4. Take equipment doctrines (meltabombs being the most obvious).

5. Take character upgrades (Harker for a move/fire heavy bolter and extra deployment options, Bastonne for orders and never falling back).

6. Scoring troops.

7. Take a maximum of 6no. squads (Stormies only get 3no.)

8. They. Are. 7. Points.Cheaper. (For 3no. full Storm trooper squads, I get almost 5no. grenadier Vets).

At the end of the day the items that comes across everyone’s mind with regards to the 7 point issue is item 07 and 08. Stormies just cost too much, and I can naturally take more Vets anyway, so why not?

Also, Stormies are designed and built in a certain way. Daring deployment options and MEQ-killing power (imagine if they weren’t AP3 a la previous IG codex edition, then they’d be utterly, utterly useless). Vets can be built as you like ‘em.

Mighty meaty, Hawaiian chicken, demolitions team, vegetarian, chocolate chip, chimelta, you name it you can build it. Stormies only get one flavour – MEQ killer.

So, 7 points more you get a Storm Trooper. They may be ‘better’ but I’ll have to pass. In as much as I like the models (Kasrkin, Moon troops AND SAS beret-lovers alike), the lack of further equipment options coupled by the ‘overcost’ means I’d avoid Stormies in normal 40K games unless attempting a fluffy build.

Or Planetstrike. :-)

FINAL THOUGHTS:

The way I see it, the trouble with Storm Troopers VS Vets are most definitely the 7 points difference. For 7 points less, you get a Vet. unit that will perform better (depending on equipment), and in a greater variety of roles too. Plus there’s more than one way to skin a MEQ, other than AP3 weapons.

For 7 points MORE, I would’ve expected a Storm Trooper to out-do a Vet in more ways than just the one. At least Stubborn perhaps (as Commissars are. After all, Storm Trooper squads are training ground for Commissars surely?), or something akin to ATSKNF or Combat tactics like a Marine. Or just give them that extra special weapon slot.

Perhaps a points reduction is in order to make a Storm Trooper unit a more attractive, and viable option (e.g. 5 points), but who knows how the GW studio design works these days, what with each and every subsequent shiny new Codex release trumping its predecessor with each release.

Don’t get me wrong: I loves me my Storm Troopers. I love the Kasrkin & beret models I refurbished, I love the fluff behind them, I love the idea of using them en masse in a game (batrep soon to follow) but in a competitive situation I just cannot bring myself to justify the 7 point increase, except in the most specific and arguably limited of situations (MEQ killing, via deep strike and/or other sneaky setup).

Here are group-shot pictures of mine though, the ones I tend to run as Grenadier Vets and/or Command Squad meltagunners:



In the end of the day, I suppose Stormies are a useful tool to have in a Guard player’s arsenal, a scalpel sitting pretty in a toolbox full of mallets. But a one, or at a push two-trick pony, will be spending most of the time on the bench.

Anyone with any experience using Stormtroopers? (including the Inquisitorial versions?)

 
Note: All images used without permission, apologies to George Lucas / Lucasfilms / Lucasarts / Mattel.

9 comments:

  1. And now we know the real reason GW didn't invest in plastic stormies. They did the mathhammer and figured they wouldn't sell. Well, not until the next IG Codex is released...

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  2. Ha-ha! Good thinking, Kevin!

    Nice post, Menzies. And I love my beret stormies(!) - but I've only ever fielded them once. killed 3 marines then got slaughtered to a man. What's the points cost of 3 vanilla marines compared to 10 stormies?

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  3. Excellent post mate, I'll just have to keep counting my kasrkin as carapace vets!

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  4. @ The Other Kevin: I'm actually working on a little project of plastic Stormtroopers at the moment (fw rebreather heads onto cadians, with green stuff or plasticard), and one day actually plan to field my metal kasrkin, new plastic 'kasrkin', and beret stormies in a game where I've 'spammed' stormtroopers. In a valk. (I'm also building one).

    @ Admiral Drax: I love my berets too but always seem to field them as vets.

    Points wise, (in 5th ed) a vanilla Marine is 18pts for the first 5, 16 for the next but no way is a Storm Trooper an equal to a Marine. Maybe a Scout, but definitely not a vanilla Marine.

    Thus, 10 rapidfire hotshot Storm Troopers vs MEQ: 4.42 average kill.

    COunterpoint - 10 rapidfire bolter MEQ Vs Storm Troopers:

    0.67x2x10 (to hit) x 0.67 (to damage) = 8.98 average kill.

    Therefore those 7 Marines you failed to kill rolled above the average to wipe your 10 men squad out.

    Conclusion: Marine > Stormtroopers both performance, survivability & points-wise.

    You might say the perhaps deliberate overcosting of Stormtroopers is to discourage players from playing a Marines-lite army. But then Vets are what every Guard player seems to play now.

    Still, could be worse. Vets could be Elites, and we'd be back to the days of 4th edition 40K in which Mechanised Grenadiers were the only competetively playable list in 5th edition 40k.

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  5. A pleasure. This is an absolutely brilliant analysis. Also, I've edited my link to make certain that I've identified your site properly (all credit where credit is due).

    p.s. I noticed yer fae edinberra. I spent 6 grueling years in fundee for my sins, which is neither here nor there, but a bit more there than here, if you know what I mean.

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  6. Very detailed breakdown. The Stormies versus Vets debate has been a heated one at my LGS. I keep telling my friends that 'scoring' makes all the difference.

    If you want Stormies take a Storm Trooper Officer.

    Nice post Menzies.

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  7. Menzies, you forgot that the Bolters don't cut through the 4+ Carapace armor that Storm Troopers wear.

    (2/3)(2)(10)(1/3) = 40/9
    (2/3)(2)(10)(2/3)(1/2) = 40/9

    I agree Storm Troopers are a bit overpriced, but in your specific example, the Storm Troopers and Space Marines are actually evenly matched. Until cover comes up (which it will)

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  8. @ bsmoove: Do you ever miss bonny Scotland? :) I've been here over 10 years now.

    @Copper: Woopsies! You're right! (Forgot that Bolters are AP5, not AP4), thus will make a correction re: 'Counterpoint' comment to Admiral Drax:

    "Counterpoint - 10 rapidfire bolter MEQ Vs Storm Troopers:

    0.67x2x10 (to hit) x 0.67 (to damage) x 0.5 (failure to save) = 4.49 average kill."

    Hmm! Just a bit better than a Stormie, but only just. And you're right re: cover too, as the rules of engagement with 5th edition these days, even MEQ's go around hiding in the bushes... Just in case.

    Re: overpricing, perhaps the issue isn't just the price, but more specifically what sort of use one gets from the price hike. If there were flexible builds, or alternative uses for a Stormtrooper other than 'elite, deep-striking MEQ-killer expert' the price could be justified, but I can't seem to find any other use apart from that niche.

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    ReplyDelete