Friday, June 1, 2012

An Introduction to Basic Mathammer

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted on this blog and it’d undoubtedly be extinct if it wasn’t for the die-hard gamerage of J-hova and Ethrion. So after a long pause, here’s the first tactica I’ve written in quite a while:

An introduction to Mathammer:

Quite a few people I know have told me they put no stock in Mathammer and think people who do it are silly. Usually they say this because they can’t be bothered with it and are jealous of people who can. Well with this guide it’ll be easy for all of you!

Simple Equations:

Back to school kiddies and time to remember your times tables. Think about the answer and then highlight the area between the brackets with your mouse cursor to see if you’re correct:

If you roll 1 dice, what is the likelihood that it will roll a 4,5 or 6?                  ( 50% )

If you roll 2 dice, what will their sum total be on average?             ( 7 )

If you roll 12 dice, how many 1’s will you on average roll?              ( 2 each )

If you roll 6 dice, how many of them will roll a 3, 4, 5, 6 on average?          ( 4 )

If you roll 6 dice, remove any that roll a 1 or a 2, then roll the remainder again and remove any that roll a 1, 2 or 3, how many dice will remain?              ( 2 )

If you roll 9 dice, remove any that roll a 1 or a 2, then roll the remainder again and remove any that roll a 1, 2 or 3, then roll the remainder again and remove any that roll a 3, 4, 5 or 6, how many will remain?           ( 1 )

10 tactical marines shoot another squad of space marines with their boltguns. Two of the marines only have bolt pistols, giving them 18 shots. How many of the other squad of marines will they kill?   ( 2 )

Now here’s a few annoying ones to remember:

3/4 = 75%

1/3 = around  33%

2/3 = around 67%

1/6 = around 17%

5/6 = around 83%

How is this useful you might wonder? Well imagine 10 Necron warriors with a resurrection orb are in a long range firefight with 10 space marines with boltguns. Obviously the necrons having a 4+ followed by a 4+ is better than the marines with their one 3+ save but how much better is it? Imagine they shoot at each other at the same time and each receive 10 wounds. How many are left on each side?           ( 7.5 necrons and around 6.7 space marines )
 With this kind of knowledge at your disposal, you'll be able to figure out whether it's worth your marines staying in the fight and how long they can reasonably be expected to hold out for. In fact, these calculations can tell you an almost infinite number of things about your games and help you make all manner of important decisions.

Here’s another example. 5 Grey knight terminators are being charged by a fuck-ton of ork nob bikers. The bikers have 2 wounds each and toughness 5, opposed to the terminator’s strength of 4. The terminators can either use their hammerhand psychic power to give them +1 strength and increase their rolls to wound from 5+ to 4+ OR they can activate their force weapons to make each wound kill 1 nob (doing 2 wounds). Which power should they use to kill the most nobs? The terminators have 10 attacks, hitting on a 4+.

(with hammerhand; 5 hit doing 2.5 wounds, meaning they will kill 1 nob and possibly wound another – with force weapons, 5 hit doing 1.6 wounds, which multiplies by 2, meaning they will kill either 1 or 2 nobs. If your dice roll average, you can expect more nobs to die outright with force weapons rather than hammerhand)

At this point it's time to address the naysayers. Of course dice don't always roll average - that's the hilarious nature of Warhammer. But banking on the average - as unreliable as it is - is the most reliable option, so it's always good to know where you stand in relation to the average. Likewise, you might call bullshit on me doing these kinds of sums in the middle of a game and you're right, of course I don't. But after you do it in theory for a while, you start to internalise them and you begin to come up with the projected results without thinking, or at least it becomes very easy to do the mathammer on the spot when you need to.

Ok, last go.

30 ork boyz charge Mephiston. They need 4’s to hit him and 6’s to wound him, while he has a 2+ save against them. They have 120 attacks altogether. How many unsaved wounds do they do to Mephiston?  (  1.6 )

Mephiston is awesome... as long as no one has a powerklaw...


  1. Great read mate I got most of the question right...although I was rushing so I got a few wrong :P

    Mathhammer is certainly something to keep in mind during games but for those situations where it's very fine margins I always go for the ballsouthammer approach and charge those fools!

    Have faith in the dice gods, make the necessary sacrifices and say the right catechisms and you can't go wrong!

  2. Artemis, great post! I wish it were that simple… I remember playing a clash of heroes game with Ethrion once during one of our campaigns. It was logan with 14 wolfguard terminators vs some thousand sons rubric marines. On turn 2, I rolled 11 1’s… How does mathhammer account for that? I had many storm shields and invulnerable saves…