Tag Archives: blast

Krak vs Frag

One ‘fast call’ that often crops up is the decision of Krak vs Frag missiles when targeting MEQs. So here’s a question:

Devastator, Long Fang, Space Marines, Space Wolves

Lothar the Longfang stands atop a bastion with clear sight to a squad of chaos marines. He sees one in the open, with four comrades in cover. Should he use a krak on the one, or frag on the four? What if all 5 were in cover?

Chaos Marines

6th edition has introduced the concept of focus fire, whereby you can pick out individual models in the open, and has also reduced some of the standard sources of cover save (e.g. area terrain, and firing through enemy units). Both these changes affect the decision to go frag or krak vs armored targets.

Let’s take the simple stuff first, say Lothar fires a krak at the marine in the open – how does that pan out. With 3’s to hit, and 2’s to wound theres a 56% chance of killing the marine. What about the frag on the four? Well the scatter die is generally worse than all but the lowest BS values, so Lothar’s odds of hitting will likely drop (though this is quite dependent on the layout of the target models and any other nearby models that could be hit by a scatter). My previous analysis, puts BS4 scatter as about equivalent to BS3, so lets say 4+ to hit, 4+ to wound, and 3+ armor saves; and let’s say one blast marker can cover all four targets. This gets us an expected kill rate of less than 37% – worse than the krak. In fact, you’d need to cover about 7 marines before it was as effective as 1 krak shot (with no cover).

Of course, opponents are not always so obliging, and all your targets may be in cover. With 5+ cover that Krak missile drops to a 37% chance of a kill, and 4+ cover drops it to 28%. So how does the frag compare in these circumstances? A frag blast that covers 3 marines is roughly equivalent to 1 krak into 4+ cover. In 5+ cover you need about 5 marines covered to be worth your while.

So what’s the answer to our question? Well, with some dope in the open, Lothar should krak away rather than frag the four. But when it’s five in (say 5+) cover then it edges towards frag – but there’s something you should keep in mind:

They are roughly equivalent but there’s a key difference here – I’m using the ‘expected’ number of wounds to compare, but a krak can only kill 1 marine whereas the frag can kill multiple. The catch is: while the frag can kill more, your are also more likely to walk away with no kills at all. The concept here is volatility – if you need that one kill then the krak is more reliable even in situations where the average says they are equivalent. Sometimes though, you need to take the chance on getting multiple kills (e.g. to force a break test) and for that you need the frag.

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Ka-blammo!

I first touched on scatter dice in my earlier post on deep striking. Blast weapons don’t use Ballistic Skill in the same way as ‘regular’ weapons, but it is still an important factor in hitting your foes. Question time:

A renegade Ordo Hereticus Inquisitor carrying a psyocculum is hunting the battlefield for Mephiston. The inquisitor is joined by his trusty squad of psyker henchmen with the Psychic Barrage (large blast) power. Assuming they pass their psychic test, what are the odds that they will hit Mephiston?

Right, blast weapons use the scatter dice described here. At its most basic, a 33% chance of a hit, and 67% chance of a miss; if you miss then it scatters 2d6 inches but unlike deep striking you can subtract the firing models Ballistic Skill (BS) from the 2d6 result. So if you roll a ‘miss’ but get a distance less than or equal to your BS then that miss becomes a hit (i.e. you don’t scatter). Naturally this means that the higher your BS, the more ‘misses’ get converted into hits, and if it does scatter then it won’t scatter as far.

To show the effect of increasing BS values I’ve pulled together a 3d plot. So each colour represents a BS value, from BS0 at the front to BS10 at the back. The odds of a particular result go from left to right, so taking BS0 as an example, the odds of a HIT is the leftmost blue column (at 33.33%) and the odds of a particular scatter are to the right, e.g. a 2 inch scatter has a probability of 1.85% (for BS0) and a 7 inch scatter would be 11.11% likely (for BS0).

So quick summary on how to read this:

  • the height of a given column is the probability,
  • each colour is a BS value, and the BS values get higher as you go back,
  • the foreground numbers are a HIT (leftmost) or a particular scatter distance (from 1 to 12 inches).

Since the the BS value is subtracted from the scatter distance, you can clearly see the maximum scatter get smaller with each step increase in BS. So looking at the BS10 scatter (all the way at the back in pink) it’s a 94% chance of a hit, 4% chance of a 1 inch scatter, and a 2% chance of a 2 inch scatter.

Given that the the psyocculum gives our Psykers BS10, is that the answer to the question, a 94% chance of hitting Mephiston?

Not quite, theres one more factor to take into consideration. Blast size. The regular blast has a 1.5 inch radius, and the large blast has a 2.5 inch radius. Against a vehicle, only the centrepoint of the blast gets you a full strength hit, but against infantry just clipping the base with the blast template is enough for the full whack.

So in terms of hitting Mephiston, it’s 2d6 scatter minus 10 for BS, and (effectively) minus another 2.5 inches for the radius of the large blast. So we’re subtracting 12.5 from a number that is at most 12, simply put they can’t miss! There aren’t many mechanics in the game that can say that.

The only caveat is that the extra bit of reach from size of the radius doesn’t get you a ‘full’ hit as it doesn’t land exactly where you placed it. You’ll definitely hit the guy you were centred on, but you’ll cover different models around him if it does scatter those one or two inches.

So, back to more general principles. You may recall my uber list of BS rankings, well I’ve now we can add two new charts to that list.

First up, regular BS accuracies with blast accuracies added (in pink). The blast accuracies are the probability of hit but disregarding the radius of the blast (i.e. the odds of the centrepoint hitting your desired target point). Blue columns are ‘regular’ shots, green are twin linked, and pink are blast. Hmmm I guess I left out twin linked blast, guess that’ll have to wait.

Secondly looking specifically at the effect of the radius (no ‘normal’ i.e. non-blast shots on this one) . So these are the odds of hitting with just the centre (in pink), versus blast (in blue), versus large blast (in green).

The pattern is actually pretty simple: BS10 centre is as accurate as BS9 blast, is as accurate as BS8 large blast (and so on down). Essentially each step up in blast size is equivalent to a one point increase in BS.

So there you have it – I thought I had all the BS covered, but there was still more to do; …always more to do.


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