This week’s Hammer of Math cares not from whence the blood flows as we examine the Blood Tithe Point system in the new Codex: World Eaters.
As far as inscrutable deities of malefic power go, you have to admit that Khorne seems pretty reasonable in his expectations and scope. Tzeentch could ensnare you in intricate webs of impossible complexity. Nurgle will corrupt your disease-addled mind to the point where you don’t worry about being a vector for inconceivable suffering. Slaanesh might decide you should spend some time trapped in your own body while a Greater Daemon runs things for a bit. Khorne? All he cares about is murder. Slaanesh may be the God of Excess, but nobody values quantity over quality like the Blood God.
For the first time ever, Games Workshop has given the World Eaters their own well-deserved codex. The central mechanic of the army is The Blood Tithe, representing Khorne’s insatiable demand for slaughter. As units are destroyed (enemy or ally), an army consisting entirely of units with the WORLD EATERS keyword (excluding the usual AGENTS OF CHAOS and UNALIGNED units) gain Blood Tithe points (BTP). Specifically there are three sources of BTP:
- Every time a unit is destroyed a BTP is generated.
- At the end of every phase in which a CHARACTER, MONSTER, or VEHICLE unit is destroyed, an additional BTP is generated.
- At the end of every phase in which a TITANIC unit is destroyed, an additional BTP is generated.
BTP can be spent on a variety of Blessings of the Blood God, each of which lasts the remainder of the battle. These benefits range from 2 to 6 BTP, and on top of that World Eaters have access to a secondary objective that awards 2 VP for every one BTP discarded for it (up to 5 per turn). Players can obtain a Blessing at the end of any phase, but can only obtain one Blessing per phase and with one exception (bringing back Angron), each blessing can only purchased once. With a finite number of BTP available, it’s a good idea to explore the viability of each Blessing and see which ones might make sense earlier or later in the progression of the game.
Spiteful Nullification (2 BTP)
This blessing is a cheap benefit against armies that like to spam mortal wounds as it allows units to ignore mortal wounds on a D6 roll of 5+. Saves like this provide a recurring benefit since wounds that are saved will have an opportunity to be saved against a future attack. The end result is that while the save only works 33% of the time, the net effect is that the unit is 50% more resilient against mortal wounds. This will be covered a bit more extensively in the Warp Blades section, below.
Warp Blades (4 BTP)
In the same way that improving a save has a recurring benefit that makes the net result better than the change in probability, benefits that improve armour penetration can have a significant impact on certain armies. This is because higher saves increase the number of effective wounds a target has relative to when there is no save at all. The chart below shows the effective wounds value for different saves. For example, a model with a 2+ save will avoid so many attacks that it’s equivalent (on average) to a model with six times the wounds but no save at all.
In the context of World Eaters most of the melee attacks are AP -2 or AP -3, which means that if the opponent has a weak Save characteristic or can easily be forced to hit an invulnerable save then this blessing isn’t as useful. But against something like Space Marines even the smallest benefit (going from a 6+ save to nothing) is mathematically equivalent in benefit to re-rolling 1s to hit or wound.
Rage-Fuelled Invigoration (3 BTP)
World Eaters like to be in melee, which means they like to charge a lot, and Rage-Fuelled Invigoration provides an army-wide boost of +1″ to charge rolls. This synergizes well with the Icon of Wrath Stratagem for 1 CP which allows you to roll one additional D6 and drop the lowest result. The chart below shows the various probabilities for making a charge at varying distances, and for longer charges the benefits are significant. For example a 10″ charge normally only happens 17% of the time. Adding 1″ makes it happen 27%, using Icon of Wrath boosts it to 53%, and if necessary a Command Point Re-Roll will increase the chance to 78%.
Martial Excellence (5 BTP)
Selecting this blessing gives every model an extra hit on an unmodified hit roll of 6. The effect on average output can be seen in the chart below; the net effect is dependent on the WS/BS of the original attack. In the case of a WS of 3+ getting an extra attack on an unmodified 6 is a 25% increase. What’s nice about this blessing is that it applies regardless of WS; even a unit with a WS of 2+ gets a 20% improvement.
Savage Guidance (5 BTP)
Another simple but effective bonus, Savage Guidance provides an army-wide +1 bonus to hit rolls. With the exception of HQs and Exalted Eightbound most World Eaters units have a WS of 3+. Taking that to a 2+ provides a 25% improvement in average output, and the increase is even better when the original hit roll is a 4+ or worse. This means that for WS 3+ it’s par with Martial Excellence, but since the other blessing also benefits WS 2+ the bonus attacks are a more efficient choice.
Wrathful Devotion (4 BTP)
For 4 BTP World Eaters can pretend that they’re Iron Hands and gain a universal 6+ Feel No Pain, which makes them all 20% harder to kill. This makes Wrathful Devotion immensely appealing and one of the blessings that will likely be prioritized early.
Total Carnage (6 BTP)
Another blessing which improves output in melee, Total Carnage automatically wounds enemy models in melee on an unmodified hit roll of 6. Note that this will not cause a double benefit with Martial Excellence (the bonus hit is considered to have no hit value to trigger abilities off of). The effect of this blessing is more complicated, relying on both the hit roll as well as the wound roll to determine the change in probability of both hitting and wounding the target. For a WS of 3+ the bonus hits the 25% threshold of Savage Guidance and Martial Excellence when the wound roll is a 4+. This makes the threshold where this blessing is better around T7 or T8 assuming circumstances triggered Relentless Rage.
Reborn in Blood (6 BTP)
The final blessing is specific to Angron, Primarch of the World Eaters. If you have the reserves of BTP available you can resurrect him with 8 wounds left (which puts him in the middle bracket of his profile). While Angron does count as having no longer been destroyed, the opportunity cost here is significant. 6 BTP is the equivalent of 12 VP from Pile the Skulls and costs as much as any other blessing. The good news is that the net cost of this blessing is actually only 4 BTP since Angron awards you 2 BTP when he dies, and un-destroying the Primarch means you take away points if your opponent chose Bring It Down or Assassinate as a secondary. Note that using this blessing after your final Movement phase is not recommended; Angron will enter reserves and therefore count as being destroyed at the end of the game since he’s not on the battlefield.
Pile the Skulls
The final thing to consider is the unique secondary which leverages BTP; Pile the Skulls. At the end of each battle round the player can choose to spend 1, 2, or 3 BTP to gain Victory Points. Each BTP is worth 2 VP and the player is capped at 5 VP per battle round which means the third BTP spend each round is worth 50% less than the other two. This means that the optimal rate of BTP expenditure is 2 per battle round over four rounds, and that there is no benefit to spending the third BTP unless you need to catch up because you failed to allocate BTP in earlier rounds.
Blood for the Blood God
While Khorne is not a subtle being, there is a fair amount of nuance in the effect of his blessings. The two most universally applicable blessings are Wrathful Devotion for 4 BTP and Martial Excellence for 5 BTP, as both are largely immune to external circumstances which can adversely affect the benefit. Against a Chaos Knight army Total Carnage would make a lot of sense given the high Toughness characteristic, although whether or not it’s 2 VP better than Martial Excellence is up for debate. The importance of retaining BTP for Pile the Skulls cannot be understated, particularly in close games where every VP and BTP might matter. If you can maintain enough BP to allocate a steady amount of 2 BTP per turn to gain VP it will maximize the worth of every drop of blood shed in Khorne’s name.
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