Hey there everyone. With the Dark Eldar codex being recently released (and even before), there has been a lot of mathhammer going on. When I took a look through it, I really loved Duke Sliscus of the Serpent and every bonus he gives is amazing. One in particular, though, which could cause some deep thought before the game starts is his ability to roll twice for combat drugs. While it really depends on your army and your opponents, there are some general guidelines on which one to pick if you have the two options. I decided to jump on the bandwagon and try to bring the mace of arithmetic and probability on these options. But first, let’s review each drug option.
1 – Hypex – Roll 3 dice when running and pick the highest
Pretty good all around, but the least appealing in most cases. It doesn’t help you be at all deadlier in close combat, but it does help you get there sooner. Reaver Jetbikes also miss out of the fun here. This would be my last choice and is not very quantifiable, so I won’t include it in my calculations for drugs.
2 – Serpentin – Adds 1 to Weapon Skill.
Not fantastic for everyone, to be honest. Will hopefully get you more hits in, but the to-hit chart is a bit funky. HQs don’t gain too much here, but Succubi do start being hit on 5s in close-combat with WS4 opponents. Also, it doesn’t help you against non-walker vehicles. We’ll be looking at this one a bit more later.
3 – Grave Lotus – Adds 1 to Strength.
This can be very helpful. For one, it means you will probably be wounding that much easier which really makes a difference with an Archon with a Huskblade and almost all of your combat drug squads especially when attacking vehicles. Agonizers, however, don’t benefit from it and Agonizers are staple in most close-combat squads. Definitely good, but is it the best?
4 – Painbringer – Reroll failed to wound attacks.
Again, a great CC help. Allows you to get more wounds in while in close-combat, just like Grave Lotus, but has some drawbacks just like the Agonizer idea. While this does help Agonizers, it falls short when you already have a reroll from poison weapons or Razorflails, but chances are that won’t happen, so not much to worry about. Bigger is the fact that you aren’t any better at killing vehicles. One of the ones we will consider, too.
5 – Adrenalight – Adds 1 to your Attacks.
Obviously another CC boost. This is going to affect every weapon and help against vehicles in close-combat, if you have enough strength to even glance them. Adding one extra attack to each model is huge, but so are the other available options. Another one we will calculate percentages with.
6 – Splintermind – All units start with a Pain Token.
Pain Tokens are amazing. You are now starting with Feel No Pain and are one less squad destroyed away from Furious Charge. The one problem is if you had a lot of Haemonculi already planning to give them Pain Tokens and then leave, you won’t be able to pass both tokens onto your targeted squad. Both the Haemonculi and your other squad will leave with one Pain Token each, and you might not have anything to do with that extra Pain Token. If you have Warriors or Scourges and the such, you are able to pass the token onto them, so don’t worry. Either way, this is another roll you can’t really calculate with, so we won’t look at it but it may be the best one for your army.
So now you have an idea what each combat drug roll does for your squad. But there is no way we can really calculate what is the best option without first considering a control squad (a squad that doesn’t change and is pretty overall basic) and many test squads (such as T3 vs T4). Plus, you must always remember: Mathhammer is not everything. In the case of combat drugs, I wouldn't feel as bad as going out of my way to get the best option given the choice between two options with no point costs attached, but when comparing two units or weapon options I usually shy away a bit from a mathematical stand-point. They are nice to take into account, but aren't the only factor. Anyways, back on track for combat drugs. So, here is our first control squad.
10 Wyches, one of which is a Hekatrix with an Agonizer.
Pretty basic, so now let’s set up a bit of a chart. In this, drugs will be referred to the number rolled for the drug, and we’ll have both T3 and T4 targets. There will also be a Furious Charge column, checking the same results as if you had Furious Charge give you a strength bonus. In order to have a comparing to idea, there will be a “No drugs” row that will be out controls. In parenthesis, there will be the number of wounds from this drug minus the number of wounds from the control drug row. Also, assume you get the charge off getting bonus attacks and so on. Also assume your opponent is WS 4, as that is most common.
Also, keep in mind factoring in saves will change the data a bit. Suddenly, the Agonizer becomes more important than the other attacks. To deal with this, I will do wounds against T4 with a 3+ save with and without Furious Charge and then wounds against T3 with a 4+ save in a similar fashion.
So, what information do we draw from this? Well, in most cases (at least with this squad set-up), rerolls to wounds is the best option. Of course, this is not considering Pain Tokens and is only against these types of infantry squads. Painbringer isn’t the best in all situations, so don’t automatically choose it over any other roll. Once you look at the second best out of our four choices, things change quite a bit. Surprisingly to some, Weapon Skill is usually the next best when you look at the saves. Strength seems to be closer if you aren’t considering any saves at all, but since the Agonizer is that much better when you do look at saves, Weapon Skill and Attack both rise above Strength though they are all really close in the end.
But one of the biggest benefits from Strength isn’t considered when doing this, and that is glancing/penning vehicles. If the extra strength is only a tiny bit worse against the average squad, that extra strength might be much more game changing when going against a vehicle.
If you are picking between Attacks and Weapon Skill bonuses, and while the Weapon Skill is usually higher, again think about attacks against vehicles. Weapon Skill doesn't matter there, but number of attacks do. No matter how unlikely it is to get even a glance, it is possible under the right conditions (such as Hellions with Furious Charge) and those extra attacks might make the difference. Just be sure to take everything into account before picking, and definitely consider Pain Tokens as your option.
I hope you found this chart informative. I'm considering printing it out and putting it on the back of my army list sheets that take the Duke and a lot of combat drug units. If you see any errors, let me know and I'll be sure to get things fixed up.
'Til next time,