Hammer of Math: Smash Captain RETURNS!

An article by    Gaming Hammer of Math Warhammer 40k        0

Back in October we took a look at all of the Smash Captain options and ranked them. With Chaos boosted by Faith and Fury and the release of Blood of Baal updating Blood Angels this seemed like a perfect time to revisit it.

Smash Captains are pretty much distilled 40K. A heroic champion, armed to the teeth with the greatest relics man/daemonkind has to offer, diving into the heart of the enemy to slaughter the greatest foe in a whirlwind of destruction. Previously we found that certain combination of faction traits, Relics, Stratagems, and wargear could lead to a White Scar Successor Captain having a 94% chance of taking out an Imperial Knight in a single round of combat. To put that in perspective a Bloodthirster of Insensate Rage, which costs 340 points, will deal the 24 wounds necessary to kill a Knight 97% of the time. The best Smash Captains that weren’t from Successor chapters specifically designed to smash things, was a little higher than 50%.

As with last time we’ll use a set of rules to determine an appropriate unit. The target remains a baseline Knight of T8, 3+ save, and 24 wounds. The unit will be considered to be charging, can use any pre-game Stratagems as needed, and may use up to 2 command points worth of Stratagems in the attack itself. This will not include any Stratagems which make the unit fight again (since that’s effectively a second attempt). The assault doctrine will be in place for Space Marine forces, but no psyker powers or supporting abilities (such as officer auras) will be included. Each unit will be evaluated based on number of attempts required to kill the target and the probability of a first attempt kill. As usual this will be simulation based; 10,000 attempts will be made to see what the distribution of wounds to the target is. In the event that the attacker has a significant shooting attack (not a bolt pistol) those values will be included.

Thanks to Rob and Shane for their help with this article.

 

Blood Angels: Brother-Captain Slamguinius II – Electic Bloodaloo

Slamguinius. Credit: Shane Watts

Let’s get right to it. Last time the Blood Angels fell behind thanks to the absolute superiority of the new Codex and Supplements. Now with Blood of Baal it’s time to see if the King can retake his crown. Blood Angels are particularly nasty because of their mobility. A Smash Captain can be re-positioned as if they deep struck using Upon Wings of Fire for 2 CP and then be practically guaranteed the charge using Descent of Angels (2 CP) to roll 3d6 on the charge as well as the +1 bonus to Advance and Charge rolls from The Red Thirst.

Unit: Blood Angel Captain
Equipment: Jump Pack, Thunder Hammer, Storm Shield
Abilities: Shock Assault (+1A), Black Rage (+1A, 6+ FNP), Savage Echoes (+1 A on charge), The Red Thirst (+1 to wound rolls), Rites of Battle (re-roll 1s to hit), Assault Doctrine (+1 AP)
Warlord Trait: Artisan of War (+1 damage)
Relic: None required, generally The Angel’s Wing (re-roll charges, ignore Overwatch) or Gleaming Pinions (charge after Falling Back, +1 to charge distance) is used
Stratagems: Death Visions of Sanguinius (1 CP, Black Rage), Red Rampage (1 CP, +1d3A)

This results in 7 + 1d3 attacks hitting on 3+ (re-roll 1s) at strength 8 (+1 to wound), an AP of -4, and a Damage characteristic of 4.

Unfortunately the Blood Angel isn’t going to get back his crown as king of the Smash Captains, but 30% is extremely respectable and a major boost over the 8% chance of one-shotting a Knight from before Blood of Baal. Since this build does not technically require a Relic, a second Smash Captain can easily be used to get nearly equivalent results using a Master-Crafted Thunder Hammer. This is also a fairly light build in terms of CP requirements, needing only Red Rampage to get the extra 1d3 attacks and Death Visions of Sanguinius before the battle begins.

 

Blood Angels: Librarian Dreadnought Sarcophinius

Blood Angels Librarian Dreadnought

Blood Angels Librarian Dreadnought. Credit: Jack Hunter

Come for the math, stay for the puns.

I love the idea of a psychic armored coffin flying around murdering heretics and smiting the foes of the Emperor with righteous fury. Librarian Dreadnoughts have a wonderful combination of brutal offensive ability and psychic powers which make them a major threat. The most dangerous ability they have is Wings of Sanguinius, which has a warp charge value of 5 and allows them to move again as if it were the Movement phase but with a Move characteristic of 12″ and the FLY keyword, along with an option to re-roll charge rolls. This is devastating when combined with Quickening (warp charge 7) which adds 3 to Advance and charge rolls and gives them +1d3 attacks. Combined with the other innate bonuses from being a Blood Angel and you get a truly devastating combination.

Unit: Blood Angel Librarian Dreadnought
Equipment: Furioso Force Halberd / Furioso Fist
Abilities: Shock Assault (+1A), Savage Echoes (+1 A on charge), The Red Thirst (+1 to wound rolls), Rites of Battle (re-roll 1s to hit), Assault Doctrine (+1 AP)
Warlord Trait: Artisan of War (+1 damage)
Powers: Quickening (+1d3A)
Stratagems: Wisdom of the Ancients (re-roll 1s to hit), Red Rampage (1 CP, +1d3A)

This results in 5 + 2d3 attacks hitting on 2+ (re-roll 1s) at strength 10/12 (+1 to wound), an AP of -5/-4, and a Damage characteristic of 4. Note that against a T8 target with a 3+ there is no difference between the fist and halberd, but outside of the Assault doctrine the halberd would still eliminate any save.

So that’s a thing. The combination of improved hit and wound rolls gives the Librarian Dreadnought a significant boost over the Smash Captain, especially when combined with the extra 2 attacks thanks to Blood of Baal. Note that this heavy-hitter does not require the Assault doctrine, since the -4 AP from the halberd is enough to wipe out a 3+ save. Taking out a Knight in 1 turn 88% of the time makes the Librarian Dreadnought one of the most lethal options in the game, especially since it doesn’t require a lot of specialized effort on the part of the player.

 

Word Bearers: Chaos Lord Nerd Rage

Faith and Fury gave a lot of options to Chaos players, including a litany of Warlord traits and new Stratagems. The Sons of Lorgar got a pretty awesome boost in the form of the Exalted Possession warlord trait which adds to strength and attacks, and a much needed damage boost in the form of the Revered Hosts Stratagem for 1 CP. Note that for the combination below we assume that character is in a Hosts Raptorial Specialist Detachment so that it can maximize lethality. Technically the use of Vicious Descent  goes against our rule of only using 2 Stratagems, but it’s only an extra CP and Chaos generally need all the help they can get.

Unit: Chaos Lord
Equipment: Jump Pack, Thunder Hammer, Chainsword, Mark of Slaanesh
Abilities: Hateful Assault (+1A), Lord of Chaos (Re-roll hits of 1)
Warlord Trait: Exalted Possession (+1S, +1A)
Relic: Intoxicating Elixir (+1S, +1A)
Stratagems: Revered Hosts (+1D), Veterans of the Long War (+1 to Wound), Vicious Descent (Re-roll hits)

This results in 7 attacks hitting on 3+ (re-roll misses) at strength 12 (+1 to wound), an AP of -3, and a Damage characteristic of 4 and another attack hitting on 2+ (re-roll misses) at S6 (+1 to wound), no AP, and a Damage characteristic of 2.

Before Faith & Fury there was no option whatsoever that would allow a Chaos Lord a chance of killing a Knight in a single turn. To see that value go from nothing to 19% is a massive improvement. The major benefit here is Revered Hosts, as damage directly drives the output of an attack. It would be nice if Death to the False Emperor worked with thunder hammers for all of the Imperial foes out there, but the -1 to hit penalty eliminates that.

It’s also worth noting that as a unit with the DAEMON and POSSESSED rules, there are a number of auras and other abilities that can further boost the Word Bearers Slam Lord, but auras are currently outside of our consideration set (and somewhat unrealistic, if you’re dropping him well ahead of other units that might buff him).

 

Emperor’s Children: Chaos Lord Mr. Fuzzy-Britches

The Emperor’s Children get a few interesting options that can really boost the output of a Smash Lord. Loathsome Grace provides a significant boost on the charge, and the Raiment Revulsive allows the attacker to re-roll both hits and wounds. Combined with the Combat Elixirs Stratagem and you have a model with a lot of potential. Even more interesting are the opportunities offered by the Daemon Weapons in Faith & Fury. Followers of Slaanesh can get access to The Rapacious Talons which have the risk of doing nothing if the player fails to make a 2+ roll (save a CP for this!), but if they activate they can add up to 6 attacks while also letting the player re-roll wounds. Definitely a combination worth investigating.

Option 1 – Thunder Hammer
Unit: Chaos Lord
Equipment: Jump Pack, Thunder Hammer, Chainsword, Mark of Slaanesh
Abilities: Hateful Assault (+1A), Lord of Chaos (Re-roll hits of 1)
Warlord Trait: Loathsome Grace (+1S, +1A on charge)
Relic: Raiment Revulsive (Re-roll hits and wounds)
Stratagems: Combat Elixirs (+1A or +1S, +1A is better), Veterans of the Long War (+1 to Wound)

This results in 7 attacks hitting on 3+ (re-roll misses) at strength 10 (+1 to wound, re-roll wounds), an AP of -3, and a Damage characteristic of 3 and another attack hitting on 2+ (re-roll misses) at S5 (+1 to wound, re-roll wounds), no AP, and a Damage characteristic of 1.

Option 2 – The Rapacious Talons
Unit: Chaos Lord
Equipment: Jump Pack, Pair of Lightning Claws, Mark of Slaanesh
Abilities: Hateful Assault (+1A), Lord of Chaos (Re-roll hits of 1)
Warlord Trait: Loathsome Grace (+1S, +1A on charge)
Relic: Rapacious Talons (Daemon weapon, 2-6 additional attacks depending on DW roll, re-roll wounds)
Stratagems: Combat Elixirs (+1A or +1S, +1A is better), Veterans of the Long War (+1 to Wound)

This results in 7 (plus 2-6 on a 2+) attacks hitting on 2+ (re-roll 1s) at strength 5 (+1 to wound, re-roll wounds), an AP of -2, and a Damage characteristic of 2. A Command Point is reserved for each time the Daemon Weapon result is a 1.

Unfortunately the low damage makes this approach a non-starter. The Rapacious Talons find themselves looking particularly dire thanks to the combination of low strength and damage, even with all of the re-rolls and bonus attacks.

 

Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

World Eaters: Chaos Lord Bloody McPulpface

World Eaters have a few interesting options here. In addition to the regular Thunder Hammer there is also Gorefather, a Relic axe that has some pretty nice stats and a chance to deal 3 mortal wounds (but no regular damage) on an unmodified wound roll of 6. Those without the Gorefather may prefer the Helm of Furore which adds 2 to the model’s Strength characteristic at the expense of having to charge something within 8″. The Disciple of Khorne Warlord trait seems perfect for taking on large threats, as the model can re-roll hits and wounds against a unit with 5+ wounds. The Wild Fury Stratagem improves AP by 1 for a 1CP. Even more terrifying is the Red Butchers Stratagem, which for 2CP allows a unit of Chaos Terminators (including a Terminator Lord) to get the Blood for the Blood God ability and fight twice at +1 strength.

Option 1 – Thunder Hammer
Unit: Chaos Lord
Equipment: Jump Pack, Thunder Hammer, Chainsword, Mark of Khorne
Abilities: Butcher’s Nails (+1A on charge), Hateful Assault (+1A), Lord of Chaos (Re-roll hits of 1)
Warlord Trait: Disciple of Khorne (Re-roll hits and wounds against a unit with 5 or more wounds)
Relic: Helm of Furore (+2S, must charge unit within 8″)
Stratagems: Wild Fury (+1AP), Veterans of the Long War (+1 to wound)

This results in 6 attacks hitting on 3+ (re-roll misses) at strength 12 (+1 to wound, re-roll wounds), an AP of -4, and a Damage characteristic of 3 and another attack hitting on 2+ (re-roll misses) at S6 (+1 to wound, re-roll wounds), AP -1, and a Damage characteristic of 1.

Option 2 – Gorefather
Unit: Chaos Lord
Equipment: Jump Pack, Chainaxe, Chainsword, Mark of Khorne
Abilities: Butcher’s Nails (+1A on charge), Hateful Assault (+1A), Lord of Chaos (Re-roll hits of 1)
Warlord Trait: Disciple of Khorne (Re-roll hits and wounds against a unit with 5 or more wounds)
Relic: Gorefather (+2S, AP -2, 3 damage, -1 to hit, unmodified rolls of 6 deal 3 mortal wounds and end attack sequence)
Stratagems: Wild Fury (+1AP), Veterans of the Long War (+1 to wound)

This results in 6 attacks hitting on 3+ (re-roll misses) at strength 6 (+1 to wound, re-roll wounds), an AP of -3, and a Damage characteristic of 3 and another attack hitting on 2+ (re-roll misses) at S4 (+1 to wound, re-roll wounds), AP -1, and a Damage characteristic of 1.

Option 3 – Gorefather Terminator Lord
Unit: Chaos Lord in Terminator Armour
Equipment: Chainaxe, Combi-Melta, Mark of Khorne
Abilities: Butcher’s Nails (+1A on charge), Hateful Assault (+1A), Lord of Chaos (Re-roll hits of 1)
Warlord Trait: Disciple of Khorne (Re-roll hits and wounds against a unit with 5 or more wounds)
Relic: Gorefather (+2S, AP -2, 3 damage, -1 to hit, unmodified rolls of 6 deal 3 mortal wounds and end attack sequence)
Stratagems: Wild Fury (+1AP), Veterans of the Long War (+1 to wound), Red Butchers (+1S, fight twice)

This results in 11 attacks hitting on 3+ (re-roll misses) at strength 7 (+1 to wound, re-roll wounds), an AP of -3, and a Damage characteristic of 3 and another attack hitting on 2+ (re-roll misses) at S8, AP -4 (Knight gets a 5++), and a Damage characteristic of 1d6 (roll two pick highest) for the combi-melta.

Turns out that doubling the attacks with a weapon that has a high chance of dealing mortal wounds is pretty useful. With a 76% chance of killing a Knight in one shot, Terminator Lords are definitely a viable threat. Note that the contribution of the combi-melta is minimal; I ran the numbers again without the melta shot and the chances of killing the Knight only dropped by a few percentage points.

 

Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

Night Lords: Chaos Lord Gothy McBoundaryissues

Night Lords are one of the few units able to get a bonus to hitting thanks to Prey on the Weak, which for 1CP gives a +1 to hit against units with a lower Leadership characteristic than the attacker. Given that the Night Lord’s Legion trait provides a -1 Ld aura to enemies within 6″ this is fairly easy to do. Night Lords also gained a LOT of mobility options. Hit and Run allows a unit to charge after falling back for 1CP. From the Night costs 1 CP and provides a +2 bonus to charge rolls when attacking from terrain, and if the charge hits the model gets +1 to hit. And finally Raptor Strike allows a JUMP PACK unit to roll 3d6 on the charge. In addition the Killing Fury Warlord trait gives a nice +1d3 attacks. Shane also wanted to investigate a mortal wound heavy build I’m calling the Curze special, which combines the Rapacious Talons with the Flames of Spite ability to provide a ton of mortal wounds.

Option 1 – Thunder Hammer
Unit: Chaos Lord
Equipment: Jump Pack, Thunder Hammer, Chainsword, Mark of Slaanesh
Abilities: Hateful Assault (+1A), Lord of Chaos (Re-roll hits of 1)
Warlord Trait: Killing Fury (+1d3 attacks on the charge)
Relic: Intoxicating Elixir (+1S, +1A)
Stratagems: Prey on the Weak (+1 to hit against enemies with lower Ld), Veterans of the Long War (+1 to Wound)

This results in 6+1d3 attacks hitting on 2+ (re-roll 1s) at strength 10 (+1 to wound), an AP of -3, and a Damage characteristic of 3 and another attack hitting on 2+ (re-roll 1s) at S5 (+1 to wound), no AP, and a Damage characteristic of 1.

Option 2 – As Curze Intended (Rapacious Talons)
Unit: Chaos Lord
Equipment: Jump Pack, Pair of Lighting Claws, Mark of Slaanesh
Abilities: Hateful Assault (+1A), Lord of Chaos (Re-roll hits of 1)
Warlord Trait: Flames of Spite (Mortal Wound on 6+ to wound roll)
Relic: Rapacious Talons (Daemon weapon, 2-6 additional attacks depending on DW roll, re-roll wounds)
Stratagems: Prey on the Weak (+1 to hit against enemies with lower Ld), Veterans of the Long War (+1 to Wound)

This results in 5 (plus 2 to 6 more on a 2+) attacks hitting on 2+ (re-roll 1s) at strength 4 (+1 to wound, re-roll wounds), an AP of -2, and a Damage characteristic of 2 that also deals a mortal wound on a wound roll of 5+. A Command Point is reserved for each time the Daemon Weapon result is a 1.

The combination of huge numbers of attacks and mortal wounds gives the Curze Special a significant boost over the thunder hammer option, making it the second-most effective Heretic Astartes option available and by far the most maneuverable and flexible. Things get even more impressive when From the Night is allowed to pop off against an Imperial target; getting an extra attack on a 4+ via Death to the False Emperor and a +2 to hit bonus means that the probability of killing an Imperial Knight shoots up to 77%.

 

Wrapping Up

The upgrades from Faith & Fury and Blood of Baal provided a much needed boost to all of the Astartes chapters, loyalist or heretic. Blood Angel Smash Captains got a needed boost, the Dreadnought Librarian is terrifying, World Eaters are particularly scary with the options available to a Terminator Lord, and Night Lords can bring a brutal combination of speed and performance against the right targets at the right time. While they may not necessarily be on the same level as the Successor chapters, this is a welcome boost to many players.

If you have any feedback, feel free to drop a note in the comments below or email us at contact@goonhammer.com. If you have any questions that you would like answered, please submit them here.

 

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