I Get By with a Little Help…

This is a mid-level math article with a tool for CMA/CRA coordination.  One of the things I love most about miniature gaming are the people.  Make no mistake; I’m not saying its all roses.  What I am saying is that, like a garden, Warmachine’s gaming community is incredibly welcoming, uniquely fragrant and rarely (if ever) you need to keep an eye out for pieces of shit.  🙂

I’ve recently been acquanted with a particularly welcoming portion of that community, a player named Keith Hooks (Geekly).  Keith mentioned that he’s read a few of my previous articles and that he was a bit of a math enthusiast as well.  In our session of mutual nerd-fury Keith let slip a handy-dandy little tool for CMA/CRA coordination.  The spreadsheet for which can be found here;

http://geeklyminis.blogspot.com/2012/09/combine-meleecombined-ranged-attacks.html

What Keith has done is created a spreadsheet that shows you the optimal deployment of your CRA/CMA pieces given their stage on the “Power Curve” and how many pieces you have to deliver.  I’ll better define what that means in a second.

I’ve heard the term Power Curve a handful of times and I like it.  In my mind it translates to the “Mana Curve” I was used to mentally wrestling with in my Magic the Gathering days.  Yes.  I too am a dirty MtG player.  My dark secret now faces the harsh light of the internets.

The Power Curve gives you a way to conceptually talk about damage output throughout the various stages of game play (shooting, charge, melee). 

Balanced armies have a relatively consistent Power Curve.  Skew lists can be… tilted toward certain phases.  The curve for the army is constructed by the relative damage output of the pieces making up the army.  Once again, I’ve done a lot of talking and not a lot of showing so I’ll crank up some pictures to help tell the story.

Here are a few visual representations of power curves for two popular units targeting a 12/15 model.

This framework is useful in two ways; list build and tactical configuration.

The list build aspect is somewhat self-evident.  Using units with different Power Curves allows you to balance your list for different challenges in the game.  You can see that each of these units lend themselves well to different portions of the game.  The ATGM are particularly useful in pre-engagement.  You want to delay them in melee indefinitely if possible to keep them on the most potent portion of their power curve.  The Bane Thralls however need to sink their axes into something to be worth their while.  As a result, you scream those suckers up the board.  If you were to make an army exclusively of these two units the army curve would look like this.

The tactical configuration aspect is a little deeper.  The core difference here is that each unit can be kept on it’s most dangerous portion of the Power Curve by a skilled player.  As a result, the aggregate damage output of the army at hand is maximized.  If you can keep the ATGM shooting and the Bane Thralls charging, you’re going be a whole lot better off.  Ok.  That’s a lot of theoretical talk.  I want to make it sound a little more realistic.

A common complaint about certain heavy cavalry is that you need to get two charges off to make them worth their points.  That same argument, using this framework makes sense.  The heavy cavalry units don’t have enough normal damage output in a standard progression to be worth their while.  However, if you’re able to keep them in the “charging” portion of their Power Curve they start to look a whole lot better.  The problem is, for many players this is improbable or impractical.

Now let’s tie it all back together.  Units that can CMA and CRA have a variable Power Curve because their accuracy and strength vary with the number of units in the attack.  Keith’s spread sheet establishes a way to look at the unit stats and the stats of the attack target to guide your use of a unit to optimize its damage potential.

My usual warning applies.  This is too much math to do on the fly.  Take a look at the spreadsheet and get a feel for how your units go up against certain types of targets.  I was surprised by some of the results.  Many of the combinations are a little counter-intuitive.

Thank you again Keith.  You are a gentleman and a scholar.

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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