Hammer of Math: Smash Captain THUNDERDOME

An article by    Gaming Hammer of Math Tactics Warhammer 40k        0

We take a break from space elves and mental gymnastics to focus on something everyone can appreciate; gene-crafted superhuman warriors smashing things with heavy objects. With the release of the Salamanders and Imperial Fists supplements, we’ve (theoretically) reached a moment where we can pause and look at the State of the Smash Captain in all his different options. Will the venerable Blood Angel retain his crown, or will one of the new books produce a usurper? 

Note that with Psychic Awakening and two new Codex Supplements out we’ve updated the Psyker Shenanigans and Diet Smite HoM articles to include the updated information. Imperial Fists players in particular may want to check out the evaluation of their Smite alternatives.

There was an error in the calculations for Master Artisans, and credit to Redditor xachariah for pointing it out and finding a better combination of warlord traits for Optimus Maximus. Thanks!

Overview

The Smash Captain. 28mm of jump pack propelled, thunder hammer wielding, multiple damage dealing aggression. For years the Smash Captain has been an iconic part of 8th Edition gameplay, thanks in part to its ability to bypass many defenses and deal an incredible amount of damage in a single phase. Properly constructed and supported by the right Relics and Stratagems, a Smash Captain can solo entire Lords of War and turn the course of a battle. For this article of Hammer of Math we’re going to look at all the various options available, pit them against each other, and determine who reigns supreme as the Smash Master.

What makes a Smash Captain?

A Smash Captain is defined by a combination of mobility, offensive strength, and resilience. They are characters which have the FLY keyword, a re-roll aura, and a 2+ to hit before modifiers. The nominal Smash Captain has a thunder hammer or an equivalent high strength weapon capable of doing multiple points of damage. Most are equipped with some kind of high invulnerable save such as the 3++ provided by a storm shield. A baseline example is a Space Marine Captain armed with a thunder hammer, storm shield, and jump pack. He will get 5 attacks hitting on 3s, re-rolling 1s, and each hit will be a S8 hit with a -3 AP and a Damage characteristic of 3. While pretty nasty by himself, each Chapter typically has a way to differentiate themselves and add on to the baseline.

Smash Captains fall entirely within the realm of the Astartes.

The Competition

The Target. Sadly with their considerable expense Knight Preceptors aren’t really good for much else. Credit: Kevin Genson

For this article we will compete several candidate Smash Captains against a baseline Knight target 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.

Adeptus Astartes

Every chapter has the ability to field a traditional thunder hammer, storm shield, jump pack wielding space marine captain. Some chapters are drastically better at it than others, but even the most basic version is still putting out 5 S8 attacks hitting on a 3+ with a -3 AP and 3 damage. This can put a serious amount of hurt onto any target, and is a particularly nasty counter to flyers who may not be used to a metric ton of armored space marine introducing their cockpit to the business end of a thunder hammer. Every chapter has a 3CP Stratagem which will allow a model to fight twice; generally this is called Honour the Chapter so you won’t be able to use it on multiple models if you have two attachments from different chapters. The exception to this is the Deathwatch; their Stratagem is called Honour Your Brothers so it can be used in the same turn as Honour the Chapter.

Blood Angels: Brother-Captain Slamguinius

Blood Angels Slam Captain

Blood Angels Slam Captain. Credit: Jack Hunter

The classic. The crimson standard. The champion. Ever since the Blood Angels codex dropped Blood Angels have been dropping all over the place and slamming into their opponents with gene-crafted fury. 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 2CP and then be practically guaranteed the charge using Descent of Angels (2 CP) to roll 3d6 on the charge.

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

This results in 6 + 1d3 attacks hitting on 3+ (re-roll 1s) at strength 8 (+1 to wound), an AP of -3, and a Damage characteristic of 4.

The Blood Angel Smash Captain really needs to use Honour the Chapter to do the kind of serious damage necessary to kill a Knight. It will take off at least 12 wounds around 74% of the time, which provides a very good chance of killing the threat if you use the Stratagem.

 

Dark Angels: Master Friendly

The Dark Angels can field a Smash Captain that has a few options to make it more lethal, assuming they’re willing to take allies. By taking a Space Wolf character such as a Librarian and spending 1 CP to use The Lion and the Wolf, a Dark Angel and Space Wolf character can both get +1A, +1S, and +1WS. This means that Dark Angels and Space Wolves can actually hit with a thunder hammer on a 2+, which is very powerful.

Unit: Dark Angel Master
Equipment: Jump Pack, Thunder Hammer, Storm Shield
Abilities: Shock Assault (+1A), Rites of Battle (re-roll 1s to hit)
Warlord Trait: Strength of Caliban (+1 S)
Relic: None
Stratagems: The Lion and the Wolf (+1S, +1A, +1WS, +1Ld)

This results in 6 attacks hitting on 2+ (re-roll 1s) at strength 12, an AP of -3, and a Damage characteristic of 3.

Even with The Lion and the Wolf active the Dark Angel Master just doesn’t have the offensive capability to kill a Knight in one turn. This is quickly going to become a theme for certain Space Marine chapters.

 

Dark Angels: Talonmaster Floaty

We’re doing our best to fight the good fight for Dark Angels. Rather than just fielding a Master, we’re also taking a repulsorfield-motivated left turn and bringing a Talonmaster to the fray. By taking the Ravenwing Attack Squadron specialist detachment and using the Monster Slayer of Caliban Relic the Talonmaster will get a damage output very close to a thunder hammer without the -1 penalty to hit. Unlike the other options the Talonmaster will have a healthy amount of shooting available, although only the melee attacks would go again if the DA player spent three CP for Honour the Chapter. The presence of a heavy bolter does mean that the player can spend 1CP to deal 1d3 mortal wounds on a hit using Hellfire Shells. The Talonmaster can also use Speed of the Raven for 1 CP to allow it to shoot and charge even if it Advances. As the Talonmaster is not INFANTRY or a BIKER it cannot use Honour the Chapter.

Unit: Ravenwing Talonmaster
Equipment: Heavy Bolter, Assault Cannon, Power Sword
Abilities: Shock Assault (+1A), Tactical Precision (re-roll 1s to wound)
Warlord Trait: Fury of the Lion (+1S)
Relic: Monster Slayer of Caliban (+2S, -3AP, D1d3, +1 to wound rolls against VEHICLES or MONSTERS)
Stratagems: None

This results in 5 melee attacks hitting on 2+ at strength 7 (+1 to wound, re-roll 1s), an AP of -3, and a Damage characteristic of 1d3. It also does 12 shots hitting on 3+ at S6 with an AP -1 and 1 damage, and 6 shots hitting on 3+ at S5 with AP -1 and 1 damage.

While an interesting thought exercise, the Talonmaster is better suited for clearing massed troops than killing a Knight.

 

Deathwatch: Brother-Captain Tolerance

Deathwatch Smash Captains are an option for players who don’t want to soup in other armies. For players who don’t mind soup, something like a battalion of Space Wolves is going to be more feasible. While not as mobile as other options, Deathwatch captains can use Teleportarium to spend 1 CP each to put up to three models in deep strike and the Beacon Angelis to grab another. Depending on the threat it may be worth giving the Tome of Ectoclades to the Smash Captain so that he’s guaranteed to re-roll wound rolls of 1 against the target type, but personally I find the Tome much more useful on a Watch Master telling several Repulsor Executioners what to shoot. Because bolt pistols can fire Special Issue Ammunition the captain may also want to consider using Tempest Shells for 1 CP to deal 1d3 mortal wounds to a VEHICLE target with a successful hit roll. The Deathwatch version of the 3CP to fight twice Stratagem is called Honour your Brothers so if you soup Deathwatch and something like Space Wolves or Blood Angels you can technically have two units fight twice.

Unit: Deathwatch Watch Captain
Equipment: Jump Pack, Thunder Hammer, Storm Shield
Abilities: Shock Assault (+1A), Rites of Battle (re-roll 1s to hit), Mission Tactics (re-roll 1s to wound)
Warlord Trait: Castellan of the Black Vault (+1 damage)
Relic: None Required
Stratagems: Malleus Doctrine (2 CP, +1 to wound)

This results in 5 attacks hitting on 3+ (re-roll 1s) at strength 8 (+1 to wound, re-roll 1s), an AP of -3, and a Damage characteristic of 4.

While still respectable against weaker targets like Repulsors or flyers, the Deathwatch Watch Captain simply can’t kill a Knight in one attempt.

 

Space Wolves: Wolf Lord Wolfsmash Smashwolf

As one might expect from a force composed entirely of drunken space vikings, Space Wolves can be pretty nasty in close combat. Their mobility is improved by the Cunning of the Wolf Stratagem which allows the unit to deep strike within 6″ of a battlefield edge for 1 CP. Since we’re assuming the target is a Knight the Seeking a Saga ability for 1CP allows failed wound rolls to be re-rolled since the target has a higher Power Level. We did compare the Saga of the Wolfkin (+1A for charging, ignore Morale) to Saga of the Beastslayer (+1 to wound against VEHICLE or MONSTER units) and the extra attack was superior.

Unit: Wolf Lord
Equipment: Jump Pack, Thunder Hammer, Storm Shield
Abilities: Shock Assault (+1A), Rites of Battle (re-roll 1s to hit), Hunters Unleashed (+1 to hit on charge)
Warlord Trait: Saga of the Wolfkin (+1A when charging)
Relic: Wulfen Stone (+1A)
Stratagems: The Lion and the Wolf (+1S, +1A, +1WS, +1Ld), Seeking a Saga (1 CP, re-roll wounds)

This results in 8 melee attacks hitting on 2+ (re-roll 1s) at strength 10 (re-roll wounds), an AP of -3, and a Damage characteristic of 3.

A 14% probability of taking out a Knight might seem great, but with the new Space Marine book this is an extremely low number. The non-codex Chapters simply can’t keep up.

 

Black Templars: Castellan Compassion

As an Imperial Fists successor the Black Templars get access to all of the fun abilities of the Space Marine codex as well as the Imperial Fist supplement, and don’t be surprised if Psychic Awakening 2 brings about an entirely new level of bullshit. If the target really needs to die then the player can also use Tank Hunters for 2CP to add an additional +1 to the wound roll, and of course there’s always Honour the Chapter to spend 3CP to fight a second time. Sure you’ve just dropped 7 CP on a single model, but that’s what battalions are for… right?

Unit: Space Marine Captain
Equipment: Jump Pack, Thunder Hammer, Storm Shield
Abilities: Shock Assault (+1A), Assault Doctrine (-1 AP), Rites of Battle (re-roll 1s to hit)
Warlord Trait: Master Swordsman (+1A, extra hit on 6s), Siegemaster (+1 to wound)
Relic: Master-crafted Thunder Hammer (+1 damage)
Stratagems: Suffer Not the Unclean to Live (2CP, +1A, re-roll wounds)

This results in 7 attacks hitting on 3+ (re-roll 1s, extra hit on unmodified 6s) at strength 8 (+1 to wound, re-roll wounds), an AP of -4, and a Damage characteristic of 4.

Holy shit. Note that you can do even more if you want. Spend 2 extra CP and the probability of a one turn kill jumps to 70%. Successfully manifest Might of Heroes to improve strength and the number of attacks instead and the probability jumps to 84%.

 

Salamanders: Brother-Captain Shaft

Can you dig it? Salamanders can be extremely potent thanks to Stratagems like Strength of the Primarch which costs 1 CP to add +1S and double damage on melee wound rolls of 6 and their Forged in Battle ability which allows a single hit and wound roll to be re-rolled. While not needed in this case (as the unit already has Strength 16), The Crucible of Battle could also be used to add +1 to the wound roll for 1 CP. While Salamanders don’t have the mobility of other Space Marine chapters, they do have some incredible protective Stratagems including Self Sacrifice (2 CP) which prevents enemy units from targeting any INFANTRY units within 6″ of a designated unit, unless that unit is the closest enemy unit and is visible. It should be noted that Salamanders have two options when it comes to Relic weapons; Drake Smiter is a thunder hammer with improved armour penetration and a +3 damage bonus on unmodified wound rolls of 6. The alternative is a Master-crafted weapon which adds +1 to the Damage characteristic. Drake Smiter is the superior choice thanks to the improved armour penetration. Note that Drake Smiter and Strength of the Primarch both modify the Damage characteristic of the weapon and therefore the order of operations is important; multiplication occurs before addition so the final damage is 9. Similarly Strength of the Primarch applied to a master-crafted thunder hammer would have a Damage characteristic of 7 when a wound roll is an unmodified six.

Unit: Space Marine Captain
Equipment: Jump Pack, Thunder Hammer, Storm Shield
Abilities: Shock Assault (+1A), Assault Doctrine (-1 AP), Forged in Battle (re-roll single hit and wound roll), Rites of Battle (re-roll 1s to hit)
Warlord Trait: The Imperium’s Sword (+1S, +1A), Anvil of Strength (+2S)
Relic: Drake Smiter (2x S, -4 AP, 3D, -1 Hit, +3 damage on wound roll of 6)
Stratagems: Strength of the Primarch (1CP, +1S, double damage on unmodified wound roll of 6)

This results in 6 attacks hitting on 3+ (re-roll 1s) at strength 16, an AP of -5, and a Damage characteristic of 3 that becomes 9 on an unmodified wound roll of 6. One additional hit and wound roll can be re-rolled each turn.

The nice thing about Drake Smiter is that with an AP of -4 the Salamander unit doesn’t have to wait until the assault doctrine to be effective. While a 34% of killing a Knight in a single attack is not as high as some of the other options, it’s extremely solid for an army that is primarily built around defensive abilities.

 

White Scars: Smash Khan

White Scars may very well usurp Blood Angels for the Smash Captain title. With the bonuses of the assault doctrine, several warlord traits that improve damage and probability, and several Stratagems to enhance mobility White Scars are absolutely terrifying in the third round and beyond. Their Lightning Assault Chapter Tactic allows them to charge after Advancing or Falling Back, and for 1CP the player can use the Fierce Rivalries Stratagem to roll 3d6 and discard one of the results on their first charge roll in a phase. The 1CP Encirclement Stratagem can also be used to allow units to deploy in reserve come appear wholly within 6″ of a board edge and more than 9″ from any enemy models.

Unit: Space Marine Captain
Equipment: Jump Pack, Thunder Hammer, Storm Shield
Abilities: Shock Assault (+1A), Assault Doctrine (-1 AP), Devastating Charge (+1 damage), Rites of Battle (re-roll 1s to hit)
Warlord Trait: Hunter’s Instincts (+1 to hit and wound MONSTERS or VEHICLES), Chorgorian Storm (+1d3A on the charge)
Relic: Master-crafted Thunder Hammer (+1 damage)
Stratagems: None required

This results in 5 + 1d3 attacks hitting on 2+ (re-roll 1s) at strength 8 (+1 to wound), an AP of -4, and a Damage characteristic of 5.

As expected White Scars can be extremely dangerous under the appropriate conditions. The combination of massive Damage characteristic, high probability of hitting and wounding, and enough armour penetration to eliminate a 3+ save is extremely effective.

 

Successor Chapter: Tiberius Rex, Chapter Master of The Swords of Davion

Space Marine Swords of Davion Chapter Master Tiberius Rex

Tiberius Rex, Chapter Master of the Swords of Davion. Credit: Tyler “Coda” Moore

Okay we have to include some fun successor chapters. First up we have Tyler “Coda” Moore, with a great example of a more narrative driven fighter with the Ultramarines Successor the Swords of Davion. Tiberius isn’t the most OP load-out possible and consumes 3CP before he hits the board. However, he is a great example of a more narrative driven smash captain. He is also pretty cheap points wise for what he can do clocking in at 107pts. He’s equipped with the traditional Smash Captain kit with the exception of The Burning Blade instead of a thunder hammer. With the Chapter Master (2 CP) Stratagem he re-rolls all misses, and his Warlord traits are Imperium’s Sword (+1A, +1S) and Paragon of War (unmodified 6 on wound roll causes a mortal wound) thanks to the Exemplar of the Chapter Stratagem (1 CP). The Swords of Davion use the Hungry for Battle tactic to add +1 to Advance and charge rolls, and the Whirlwind of Rage tactic to generate an extra hit on an unmodified hit roll of 6. As an Ultramarines Successor Tiberius Rex can use Squad Doctrines (1 CP) to be in the Assault Doctrine regardless of the turn, although with the -5 AP of the Burning Blade it’s unlikely he ever would need to do so. 

Unit: Space Marine Captain
Equipment: Jump Pack, Power Sword, Storm Shield
Abilities: Shock Assault (+1A), Assault Doctrine (-1 AP), Whirlwind of Rage (extra hit on unmodified hit roll of 6), Chapter Master (re-roll any hit roll)
Warlord Trait: Imperium’s Sword (+1S, +1A), Paragon of War (unmodified 6s on wound roll cause a mortal wound)
Relic: Burning Blade (+3S, AP -5, 2D)
Stratagems: None required

This results in 6 attacks hitting on 2+ (re-roll any, extra hit on unmodified 6s) at strength 8 (mortal wound on unmodified 6s), an AP of -6, and a Damage characteristic of 2.

With absolutely no chance of killing an Imperial Knight in one turn, Chapter Master Tiberius Rex is a good example of the upper limit that a Space Marine can produce without relying on ultra high damage weapons like thunder hammers.

 

Successor Chapter: Brother-Captain Optimus Maximus

Let’s assume for a second that the only thing you care about is making the best possible Successor Chapter murder machine available. What would you pick? Well the obvious choice of First Founding Chapter is White Scars for the +1D during the Assault Doctrine; combined with a master-crafted thunder hammer and you have a weapon that will deal 5 damage on every strike. For chapter tactics Whirlwind of Rage is essential, adding roughly 17% more hits as every unmodified hit roll of 6 counts twice. The second tactic could be Master Artisans to re-roll a single hit and wound roll, or Hungry for Battle to improve your chances of reaching the target. For this scenario we’ll go with Master Artisans.

Unit: Space Marine Captain
Equipment: Jump Pack, Thunder Hammer, Storm Shield
Abilities: Shock Assault (+1A), Assault Doctrine (-1 AP), Whirlwind of Rage (extra hit on unmodified hit roll of 6), Devastating Charge (+1 damage), Rites of Battle (re-roll 1s to hit)
Warlord Trait: Hunter’s Instincts (+1 to hit and wound MONSTERS or VEHICLES), Imperium’s Sword (+1S, +1A)
Relic: Master-crafted Thunder Hammer (+1 damage)
Stratagems: None required

This results in 6 attacks hitting on 2+ (re-roll 1s, extra hit on unmodified 6s) at strength 10 (+1 to wound), an AP of -4, and a Damage characteristic of 5. One additional hit and wound roll can be re-rolled each turn.

Holy shit. This should really help to emphasize just how devastating White Scars can be when properly utilized. Unfortunately the viability of this unit is hampered by the fact that you have to wait until turn 3 to be really effective under the assault doctrine. Outside of the assault doctrine the probability of a first turn kill is “only” 45%.

 

Special Appearance: Tor Garadon

Okay, I feel obligated to include Tor Garadon in this. Yes, he doesn’t have a jump pack. Nor can he fly. In fact he’s lucky if he can get a Repulsor to take him anywhere. But come on…

Imperial Fists Captain Tor Garadon

Imperial Fists Captain Tor Garadon. Credit: Jack Hunter

We have to see what this guy can do. Tor is a nightmare with the Siege Captain special rule that gives his attacks +1 damage against VEHICLES. The Siegemaster trait boosts his already impressive strength further by giving a +1 to wound, and if that wasn’t enough there’s also the Tank Hunters (2 CP) Stratagem for an additional +1 to wound. Because we can do whatever we want we’re also going to assume he’s standing on an objective (he doesn’t come to you, YOU COME TO HIM) for +1A and +1 Save using The Shield Unwavering for 2CP. This results in 7 attacks hitting on 3+ (re-roll 1s) at strength 12 (+1 to wound), an AP of -4, and a Damage characteristic of 4 along with two additional attacks hitting on 2+ (RR 1) at S5 (+1 to wound), AP -3, and 1d3 damage.

Not bad. Tor Garadon has a lot of abilities that enhance his utility on the field, so this can be seen as an added bonus instead of the core functionality of the unit like actual Smash Captains.

Forces of Chaos

Black Legion Chaos Space Marine Lord with Thunderhammer

He’s on foot, which might explain why he’s so angry. Credit: Tyler “Coda” Moore

With the release of the new Chaos Space Marines Codex in April (and thanks to Blackstone Fortress), Chaos Space Marines can finally take thunder hammers, and for half the cost of their loyalist brethren. Smash Lords lack the defensive boost that Smash Captains can get from a Thunder Shield and – aside from Black Legion Lords – don’t have a great replacement. They do get some good offensive buffs however, with the most notable ones coming from the Veterans of the Long War (1 CP) Stratagem and some decent relics. There are two varieties we’ll look at here. Note that all of our Codex: Chaos Space Marines Lords will be taken as part of a Host Raptorial specialist detachment, giving them the ability to use the Vicious Descent (1 CP) Stratagem to re-roll all hit rolls the turn they drop in. Any model armed with a bolt pistol may want to use the Daemon Shell (1 CP) Stratagem to deal 1d3 mortal wounds to the target. Many of the builds benefit from the Flames of Spite Warlord trait, which causes a mortal wound on every wound roll of 6. This increases to a 5+ when paired with Veterans of the Long War, allowing for a large number of attacks that bypass most of the target’s defenses. 

 

World Eaters: LORD BLOODSMASHER MURDERBLOOD

World Eater Lords have access to the Fury of Khorne (3 CP) stratagem to fight a second time, which is slightly insulting when you consider that literally every loyalist chapter gets the exact same thing.

Unit: Chaos Lord
Equipment: Jump Pack, Thunder Hammer, Chainsword
Abilities: Hateful Assault (+1A), Butcher’s Nails (+1A),
Warlord Trait: Flames of Spite (6s on wound roll cause a mortal wound)
Relic: None required, although the Talisman of Burning Blood (Advance and charge in the same turn, re-roll failed charge rolls) is a good idea
Stratagems: Veterans of the Long War (+1 to wound), Vicious Descent (re-roll hits)

This results in 6 attacks hitting on 3+ (re-roll misses) at strength 8 (+1 to wound, mortal wound on 6s), an AP of -3, and a Damage characteristic of 3. There is an additional single attack hitting on 2+ (re-roll misses) at strength 4 (+1 to wound, mortal wound on 6s), an AP of 0, and a Damage characteristic of 1.

Even an eternity of dedication to the Lord of Slaughter can’t compare to getting a new codex. Chaos just can’t keep up with their loyalist counterparts.

 

Black Legion: Lord Chipper

The Black Legion gets access to a number of very good relics and warlord traits, and we can put those to work here. Notably the Ghorisvex’s Teeth Relic provides an extra two attacks which produce a mortal wound. This combined with the Flames of Spite trait and Veterans of the Long War Stratagem to deal two mortal wounds on every wound roll of 5+. There’s an interesting alternative variant of this guy that uses the Flames of Spite Warlord Trait and the Spineshiver Blade relic, which will give him an additional D6 attacks when he fights, and maximizes his chances of dealing mortal wounds. When paired with Veterans of the Long War (and, outside this exercise, the Prayer to get another +1 to Wound), he can put out an insane amount of mortal wounds. Finally, he has the KHORNE keyword in case we need him to fight twice.

Unit: Chaos Lord
Equipment: Jump Pack, Thunder Hammer, Chainsword
Abilities: Hateful Assault (+1A)
Warlord Trait: Flames of Spite (6s on wound roll cause a mortal wound)
Relic: Ghorisvex’s Teeth: (+2A, 1x S, -3 AP, 2D, 6s on wound roll cause a mortal wound)
Stratagems: Veterans of the Long War (+1 to wound), Vicious Descent (re-roll hits)

This results in 5 attacks hitting on 3+ (re-roll misses) at strength 8 (+1 to wound, mortal wound on 6s), an AP of -3, and a Damage characteristic of 3. There is an additional 2 attacks hitting on 2+ (re-roll misses) at strength 4 (+1 to wound, 2 mortal wounds on 6s), an AP of -3, and a Damage characteristic of 2.

Unfortunately the Black Legion Chaos Lord simply doesn’t put out enough damage to one-shot the Imperial Knight, but with the ability to fight twice thanks to the Fury of Khorne stratagem, he can get there most of the time.

 

Bloodthirster of Insensate Rage

Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

Okay, fuck it. If we’re going to look at angry flying weapons of mass carnage, let’s look at what should be the epitome of angry flying weapons of mass carnage. The Bloodthirster. As a Locus of Rage this monstrosity gets to re-roll charge rolls, if necessary the invulnerable can be improved to a 4+ by using Warp Surge (2 CP), and if by some miracle the target survives the first round of attacks it can use Frenetic Bloodlust (3 CP) to fight again at the end of the Fight phase.

Unit: Bloodthirster of Insensate Rage
Equipment: Great Axe of Khorne
Abilities: Unstoppable Ferocity (+1S, +1A on charge), Deathbringer (unmodified hit roll of 6 is 2 hits),
Warlord Trait: Immense Power (+1A if more enemy models within 8″ than friendly)
Relic: The Crimson Crown (extra attack on wound roll of 6+)
Stratagems: Locus of Wrath (re-roll failed hit rolls)

This results in 8 attacks hitting on 2+ (re-roll misses, extra hit on 6s) at strength 16 (extra attack on 6s), an AP of -4, and a Damage characteristic of 1d6 ( roll 2 dice, discard lowest).

It’s good that the Bloodthirster is the undisputed champion, but 340 is a lot of points to only be 3% better than a dedicated White Scar Successor Captain.

 

Conclusions

UnitProbability of Killing Knight in One Attack
Bloodthirster of Insensate Rage97%
White Scars Successor94%
Black Templar Castellan56%
White Scar Captain52%
Salamander Captain34%
Tor Garadon27%
Space Wolf Lord14%
Blood Angel Captain8%
Dark Angel Master0%
Deathwatch Captain0%
World Eater Chaos Lord0%
Black Legion Chaos Lord0%
Swords of Davion Chapter Master0%
Dark Angel Talonmaster0%

So what have we learned? Well first of all, do not fuck with a Bloodthirster. They are as terrifying on the table as they are in the lore, and it’s nice to see that. Within the actual Smash Captains the undisputed champion is the White Scars Successor and is nearly as devastating as a Bloodthirster, who through his combination of high damage, high attacks, and extensive re-rolls is able to do an incredible amount of damage. We’ve also learned that the ability to combine Warlord traits is extremely powerful, to the point where the older books are suffering considerably because of it. Chaos and the standalone chapters lack the flexibility and modern options offered by the new books and this is reflected in their poor showing. Black Templar in particular benefit greatly from being able to use a campaign book, codex, and supplement to cherry pick the most options and they might get even more powerful when Psychic Awakening 2 drops.

I hope you found this article enjoyable. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to drop a note in the comments below, or email us at contact@goonhammer.com — we’re always looking for new things to analyze in Hammer of Math.

 

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