To Boost… Or Not to Boost… That is the Question

It’s been a little while since my last article, and in the intervening time I’ve been spreading the gospel of Warmachine/Hordes.  I’m a huge proponent of the game and I love seeing new players get involved.  In all that new-game fun time, I find myself highlighting the core mechanics that roped me in as a player; resource allocation and d6 math.  This article will examine the individual unit of focus or fury and how to think about spending them to improve your outcomes.

First.  The average roll on a d6 is 3.5.  This must be distinctly understood, or nothing wonderful can come of the story I am going to relate.  Any Charles Dickens fans out there?  Too soon?  Ok!  Let’s dig in with an example.

You’re mid-assassination with Stryker2.  You’re Overload roll was garbage and you’re hitting with POW20 on a DEF15 ARM18 caster.  You need to roll an 8 to hit.  Once you’ve hit, your damage rolls are going to be dice +2.

Let’s take a closer look at the ‘to hit’ roll.  Eight is a little above average on 2d6 (41.7% chance to hit) and easily attainable on 3d6 (83.8%).  You could boost your ‘to hit’ roll, but it’ll cost you the opportunity of buying more attacks later.  Does it make sense? We’ll see.

Now let’s look at the damage roll.  You’re hitting dice +2.  On average dice you’re doing 9 damage.  That’s not too shabby.  Here is some math reinforcing your options and what you can do with two focus.


Formula:  (Odds of hitting)*(Average Damage Once Hit)*(Number of Hits)

1.  Buy two attacks: (0.417)*(9)*(2) = 7.51 Damage

2.  Buy attack, Boost to hit: (.838)*(9)*(1) = 7.54 Damage

3.  Buy attack, Boost damage: 5.21 Damage

Here it makes sense to boost to hit, barely.  In general, when you get up to 8 or 9 to hit, it makes sense to boost to hit.

Now that you’ve seen the math behind the decision, I want to talk about another interesting phenomena; the delayed decision.  You don’t need to choose to boost damage until you’ve ALREADY hit.  This is incredibly valuable.  You can evaluate the situation once you’ve hit and not waste resources by committing them too early.

So let’s say that Stryker has hit.  You can either boost your damage at dice +2 (d3 average = 10.5 + 2  = 12.5) or you can buy another attack.  Here is the math for the second attack;

Buy one attack:  (.417)*(9)*(1) = 6.25 Damage

Boosting the damage does 3.5 extra damage/focus.  Buying another attack averages 3.75 damage/focus.  Here the averages show it makes slightly more sense to keep buying attacks.  All of these examples were pretty close decisions.  In some cases, the difference in damage can be quite substantial.

That’s a lot of math to perform in your head, so here’s a short-cut;

1.  Start with the damage roll.

2.  If you’re in auto-hitting and rolling better than dice -3, buy attacks.

3.  If you’re rolling 5-7 on 2d6 to hit, figure out your damage and divide it by 2 to compensate for your likelihood to hit with an attack.

4.  If the damage you calculate is >3.5, buy attacks.

5.  If the damage you calculate is <3.5, boost damage.

6.  If you’re rolling >8 on to 2d6 to hit, boost to hit and boost damage.

There are always judgment calls to be made with every activation.  Even the guidelines I’ve given you are just rules based on running the numbers and rules were meant to be broken!  If you NEED something to happen.  Boost it.  If you WANT something to happen.  Boost it.  If you think it’ll be hilarious for something to happen.  Boost it.  Ultimately, this is a game.  Have fun.

The more you know… (hum the little diddy in your head when you read this last part)

Author: Tmage

I'm a gaming and math enthusiast. I find games that balance strategic interaction with economic principles (delayed option, resource control, etc.) are some of the most rewarding for me as a player. I concentrated in Finance, Analytic Consulting, Decision Sciences and Management Strategy while getting my MBA at Kellogg (Northwestern University) and majored in Chemical Engineering during my undergrad at University of Illinois. I view gaming through this lens and share my perspective via periodic articles. Thanks for reading!

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