Decision: Which Chainrasp is the Best?
Painting/Photo Credit: Maledrakh
The Ever-Hanged, obviously. Of the nameless Chainrasps, the Nighthaunt Axe models generally put out superior damage on both sides of their fighter cards. (Tiebreaker goes to the one with the board nailed to their hand, as explained below.)
Factor: The Obvious
For the sake of completeness, but mostly so we don't hear about it in a thousand comments later, it's best to start by addressing The Ever-Hanged. He's technically a Chainrasp, and can benefit from all the Chainrasp-specific actions, upgrades, and ploys. He's also clearly better than any of the other Chainrasps, which is probably why he gets a name while his compatriots wallow in obscurity.
For starters, he gets 1 more wound than any of the nameless ghosties, and starts at 4 movement. Additionally, his attack is better on both his inspired and uninspired side than any of his rank-and-file associates. If you're looking for the best Chainrasp, you've found him. Now let's move on to the comparison of the four unnamed Chainrasps, which is much more likely yield some interesting data.
Factor: Uninspired Chainrasps
The Thorns of the Briar Queen aren't the first warband to include a bunch of interchangeable chump models, but they are the first to differentiate those models from each other in some way. Unfortunately, while the ghosts got different statlines, they didn't get different names. So for now, we're stuck referring to them by their only salient feature: their attack action. To start, it's worth noting that the crucified Chainrasp and the one in the iron mask both have Nighthaunt Axe, and are functionally identical. The other two boys (girls? enbies?) each have a unique attack in the form of Nightaunt Blade and Nighthaunt Club. Other than this, the ghosts all have identical stats.
So which one has the best attack on the uninspired side?
First, we can look at raw accuracy and damage. Raw accuracy is the base chance that your model's attack roll will include at least one hit. When we multiply that by the damage of the attack, we get a number that represents the average amount of damage done by an unblocked attack of this type:
In this case, we can see that the axe is clearly the superior attack. While it's less accurate than the other two attacks, it's increased damage makes up for the fact that it will completely miss more of the time.
Here, we can see that while the axe remains the most potent attack, the gap in effectiveness between the three attacks closes slightly.
What the above chart can't account for is the prevalence of various warbands in the meta - you almost certainly won't see as much Godsworn Hunt as you will Mollog in any given tournament. Unfortunately, there isn't enough data to accurately assess the prevalence of various warbands across a global meta (though Wigglehammer is working on it). Even if we could assess the entire global meta, a feature of any good competitive game is that the meta constantly shifts. So how can we account for the discrepancy in the presence of various warbands?
The short answer is that we can't. The long answer, however, is that there is good data about several large tournaments (again, thanks to Wigglehammer) and we can use that data to give a general prediction of how good a particular attack action is against a large-tournament field. For this article, we'll take a look at the Adepticon data, and use the random-average method discussed above to see how likely any given Chainrasp attack would be to hit against the field at that tournament. When viewed in this light, the Chainrasp attacks look like this:
Well, that's embarrassing; these numbers are almost exactly equivalent to the ones in the original random-average calculation! While all of the attacks are slightly less effective against the Adepticon field, the axe remains king, and by the same margins as it did against the random-average field.
So what have we learned with all this extraneous math? First, the field at Adepticon was relatively representative of the available warbands - at least in the realm of defense characteristics. This is a good sign - a sign of a well balanced game. Second, we've learned that the axe is by far the best option for uninspired Chainrasps, which is great, since you get two of them. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we've set the groundwork for looking at the numbers on the inspired Chainrasps, which is where the defense stat of your target becomes much more important, thanks to a little thing called Cleave.
Factor: Inspired Chainrasps
Now that our undead friends have gotten inspired, their attack stats have all improved a bit. Everyone picked up an extra attack die (though that benefits some more than others), and Blade and Club picked up Cleave and Knockback 1 respectively. We won't really be looking at the effect of Knockback at this point, as it doesn't change any of the math related to damage output - our primary concern. Suffice to say that since Knockback is optional, it's always better to have it than to not have it; Nighthaunt Club gained some traction on the other attacks, it's just hard to quantify how much. Cleave, on the other hand, has a distinct mathematical effect on damage output, depending on whether your opponent is rolling shields or dodges for defense. Let's start with raw accuracy for now though, which by definition can't factor in Cleave. Raw accuracy and damage output for the inspired ghosts looks like this:
Once again, Nighthaunt Axe comes out on top, but it's worth noting that Nighthaunt Blade has overtaken Nighthaunt Club even without factoring in Cleave.
Now we get to the trickier calculations. Since Nighthaunt Blade gets significantly better against warbands that defend primarily with shields, the defender in the equation becomes much more significant. When we use the random-average method of defense discussed above (against the entire available field), our numbers look like this:
Against our random-average defender, the axe still reigns supreme, but the gap between the blade and axe has closed significantly. Additionally, we can see that while blade is now solidly beating club, the difference against the random-average defender is actually less than the raw accuracy difference. This leads us to the conclusion that the chance of a critical from a third die (at least in the 2 to 3 die case) gives us a greater boost in accuracy than picking up cleave on a 2 die attack. This observation may help inform decisions far beyond the evaluation of Chainrasps (yay - our math was useful!).
Finally, we can look at what the Chainrasp attacks look like against the field at Adepticon, using the methods discussed above. Here, we should see the effect of Cleave illustrated against a large, real tournament field. Let's see what we've got:
Well, farts. Nothing seems to have really changed. Once again, the axe is your best choice for putting out damage across the average warbands played at Adepticon. While this serves as further reinforcement for the conclusions we came to above (+1 die > cleave; fairly balanced array of warband defense stats), it's not particularly exciting. Across every survey we performed, the axe Chainrasps seem to be the best option.
Now we've got a real conundrum. The two Axe Chainrasps are identical in every way, stat-wise. We've got to come up with a way to decide which one takes home the proverbial Shadeglass. So, in honor of Games Workshop, we've decided to use a truly ridiculous tiebreaker system: Nicknames! We took an informal survey of the
Warhammer Underworlds Shadespire Community Facebook Group and chose some of the (in our extremely subjective view) best nicknames to include here:
- Nighthaunt Blade - Fully Headless Nick, Marie Antoinette, The Horseman
- Nighthaunt Club - Clubber Lang, Braceface, Lockjaw, Clamps
- Nighthaunt Axe (Cross) - Plankton, Spartacus, Fake Jesus, Chairman of the Board
- Nighthaunt Axe (Helmet) - Prince Philippe, Chrome Dome, Gimpy, Mushmouth*
So now, by using the extremely accurate mathematical formula of because-we-say-so, it becomes clear that the best Chainrasp is:
THE CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARD!
Across all of the mathematical analysis we performed for this article, the Chainrasps with Nighthaunt Axe outperformed all the others (with the obvious exception of The Ever-Hanged). This may be different in your meta, especially if you face a lot of shield-defense warbands. However, for most large environments, we think the axe models will give you the best value. Of the two axe models, Spartacus has a slightly higher potential for comedy than Philippe.