Thursday, February 10, 2011

"Flames of Math" Part 1

Ok, I admit to being a 40k refugee.  My son is a very good 40k player and when he first started, I thought I would learn along with him.  Plus I became the "neat" dad because I could play!

Being a "systems" guy, I immediately was drawn into the black hole known as "Math Hammer".  That is the derogitory term used to describe people like me who throw numbers into a spreadsheet.  I personally do it to speed up the learning curve.

When I started Flames of War over a year ago, I thought I would do the same thing.  I quickly learned that Math Hammer did not translate to FoW.  The main reason has to do with a core belief in the gaming system used - that the skill of the target is what determines the criteria or number to hit.  Due to this, you can have numerous complexities on the formula to calculate kills.  Is that German panzer trained?  vet?  How far away is the target?  Is it concealed?  Gone to Ground?  Shurzen?  I guess I could write a phone app (memo to self - write a phone app) that would take all that into account.

Or I could play 200 games.

So what I have done is simply play with the numbers on simple examples.  My favorite right now?


As an American player, we have the luxury of stabilizers.  Too bad they are attached to Shermans.  The question is always "do I use them and take the +1 to hit penalty?"  Now, THAT is a question I can get my head around.  And debate my friends endlessly.  Like last night.


A platoon of 76mm Shermans (4 active tanks - the 5th decided to get blown up a turn earlier) facing 2 Tigers.  Late war.  Everyone are vets (go 2nd Armored!!).  Without too much details, I have a choice:  4 dice at a 4+ to hit or 8 at a 5+ to hit.

What do you do?

I will always argue to take the 8 chances - regardless of the to hit.  Here is the math -

4 x .5 = 2 "hits" at the 4 chances at a 4+
8 x .3333 = 2.6 "hits" at the 8 chances at a 5+

Change it to a 5+ v. a 6 and the math is:

4 x .3333 = 1.3333 "hits" at the 5+
8 x .1666 = 1.3333 "hits" at the 6

One shot at a 5+ or 2 at a 6?

1 x .3333 = .3333 or 33% chance of a hit
2 x .1666 = .3333 or 33% chance of a hit

But by rolling two dice I also get a chance (small, but still at chance at 8.3%) of getting TWO hits by rolling double sixes.

But does it play this way?  Last night - heck yes!  I had a great roll and scored 5 hits.  German rolled and failed 3 armor checks.  Awesome!  I just need 3+ on the firepower to kill!  Two dice showed a "two" and one showed a "one."  AAAAHHHHHHH!!

So I now must admit that I cannot see the need to NOT use stabilizers - unless using them causes an impossible shot (i.e. 7 to hit).

How does the nickname of "Captain Stabilizers" sound?


  1. Yup, I'm in the same boat. I use stabilizers 9 times out of 10. The 10th time is for impossible shots, or for that rare opportunity where the quality of fire is more useful than the volume (such as reeeeeaaaaallly needing to hit that last 88 gun team right in front of you that will shoot a ROF 3 AT 13 into your tank platoon next turn).

  2. Your on target, I am not a number cruncher and statistics only make my head hurt but its always better to throw more dice. I read someone else talking about this recently and their math said that statistically if you need a 5+ but use stabilizers making it a 6+ you have the same odds of rolling a 6 on one of 2 dice as you do of rolling one and hitting a 5.

  3. Yep. .166666 (1/6) + .16666 (1/6) = .33333

    Which is exactly the same as 1/3 or the odds of rolling a 5+ on a single die.

    The issue is the perception of needing to roll a five or a six versus a six. It just "feels" easier to roll a 5 or a 6 than a 6 on two different dice.