This week’s Hammer of Math heads outside of the hives and examines exactly how difficult it really is to kill these vehicles.
Vehicles in Necromunda are a lot of fun, but one of the things you quickly discover is that not all rides are created equal. I covered how Ash Waste vehicle combat works in a previous article, but examining the theory of how the rules are applied is a different animal from simulating the outcome. So that’s exactly what I did, coding up a vehicle attack script in Python that recreates the attack and damage sequence the same way that a player would. Only in this case I repeated the sequence until the vehicle was Wrecked (either by losing all its HP or through a failed Loss of Control check leading to a roll), and then repeated that simulation 100,000 times per attack. I examined all of the customizable chassis in the game along with two configurations of Cargo-8 Ridgehauler (regular and extra bullshit) and put them up against various weapons ranging from a Van Saar Prime wielding a Multi-Melta to an Ambot punching angrily with their robotic fist. Unfortunately the simulation did require a few caveats:
- The simulation assumes everything occurs in a single turn so that I didn’t have to deal with the crew recovering in the End phase.
- While it’s not entirely clear, I assumed that a crew that’s unconscious as a result of a Catastrophic Hit will automatically fail all Loss of Control tests they’re required to make.
First up is the light vehicle, a T3 platform with a 5+ save that is basically a ganger that can move fast. Assuming they hit, most of the attacks wrecked the light vehicle almost immediately. This was especially true of anything with enough damage dice to reliably inflict HP loss from a Penetrating or Catastrophic hit. It’s probably best to think of light vehicles as 50 credit suspensors on wheels as opposed to anything that can survive, although this can be mitigated somewhat by taking upgrades which boost HP or Toughness. You’re probably best off spending 90 credits on a Wolfquad upgraded with Reinforced Armour so it has 3 hull points.
The walker chassis has 2 advantages over the light chassis. First, it comes standard with 2 HP. Second, it has 2 body upgrade points instead of 1. This means that you can take both Extra Armour and Reinforced Armour to boost the profile to T4 and 3 HP, although the total cost is 115 credits. The chart below shows how significant adding a second HP is to the survivability of a vehicle, since now Penetrating hits to everything but the crew are no longer guaranteed to Wreck the vehicle.
Medium vehicles start to see a significant boost in survivability compared to their light counterparts, to the point where a single anti-tank weapon is likely not going to be able to kill them in a single game. With T5, a 4+ save, and 3 HP the combination of reduced probabilities for wounding and failed saves along with the added hull points makes it difficult to achieve a killing shot. It’s notable that the best weapon available to Ash Waste Nomads at gang creation, the Charge Caster with a Krak Rocket, needs at least 14 shots to have a 50% chance of killing a medium vehicle. Medium custom rides have enough Body upgrade slots to get to 4 HP with a Toughness characteristic of 6 all the way around, which would improve the chances of survival even further.
Now we start to see things get a bit absurd. T7 and a 4+ save are a significant challenge before you get to the 4 hull points, and games of Necromunda simply aren’t lethal enough to reliably deal damage to something this tough. Special weapons and everything available to the Ash Wastes Nomads are largely irrelevant, and even the best possible attack in the form of a Van Saar Prime firing a multi-melta at short range isn’t likely to remove enough HP before the game ends.
We have crossed from absurd straight into abject stupidity. The multi-melta is the premiere anti-tank weapon, intended for the destruction of hardened bunkers and the most dangerous of threats the Imperium faces. So great is the threat posed by melta weaponry that the most valuable of vehicles are protected by armor explicitly designed to counter them. Yet somehow in Necromunda a multi-melta can shoot at a glorified cargo truck 20 times and still fail to wreck it.
Things get even more difficult when you consider a full land train consisting of the Ridgehauler pulling 4 trailers with two guns on each container. Now instead of 6 hull points it has 26, and a total of 11 guns to prevent Catastrophic hits to the body from dealing extra damage. It would require thousands of lasgun shots to disable these things. I know this because I ran the numbers.
The vehicle rules for Ash Wastes are a lot of fun, but they are unfortunately a bit uneven in terms of execution and lethality. The difference in survivability of a 50 credit light vehicle and the absurdly under-costed 230 credit Ridgehauler is immense, especially if you add a trailer. It’s also extremely unfortunate how the Ash Wastes Nomads, who ostensibly would be good at taking out vehicles, have almost nothing in the way of lethality at gang creation. Arguably the most effective weapon that can be used against vehicles are weapons with the Flash trait, which force the vehicle to make a Handling check or become Blind. If you can’t blow it up, at least you can stun it long enough to finish the mission.
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