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Cardiology: Warning Shot

Decision: Should You Play Warning Shot?


Do you shoot far and often?  If so, play this card. 

Factor: Ranged Attacks

First and foremost, if you are considering playing this card, you need to have access to range 3+ attacks.  You could play it out of any warband, and hope to snag enough range 3+ attacks with upgrades to make it work, but we would not recommend that.  You will only end up frustrated.

With that in mind, we can safely say that non-Farstrider warbands from season 1 should not play this card.  Farstriders and Profiteers can easily play it, as every model they have has access to a ranged attack.  Eyes of the Nine (4/5 models) can also easily score this objective.  Mollog and Thorns are out, with no range 3+ base attacks (there's always Jabbertoad!).  That leaves Gitz, Cursebreakers, Godsworn, and Ylthari's in the maybe-zone.

Gitz can probably make Warning Shot work, as they have 3/9 models with range 3+ attacks and those attacks relative lack of accuracy can actually work in your favor here.  Cursebreakers only have one base range 3+ attack, but it's one you'll want to use a lot, so if you want to consider Warning Shot, we won't stop you.  Ylthari's has 2/4 models with base ranged attacks, and both are likely to see use - if you think Warning Shot should be in Cursebreakers, then it should definitely be in Ylthari's.  Finally, Godsworn has 2 models with base range 3+ attacks - sort of.  Jagartha's Javelin can only be used once, and you're probably very much hoping it hits.  That leaves you with only Ollo to whiff your range 3+ attacks, so we probably wouldn't play Warning Shot in Godsworn.

Factor: Missing

Let's face it - nobody likes to miss attacks in Shadespire.  With most objectives, we want to build our deck to maximize the likelihood that we'll be able to score it.  While you could do that with Warning Shot (by using cards like Blinding Flash), we don't recommend you go that route.  However, if you are already playing Blinding Flash and have access to range 3+ attacks, we can think of some theoretical situations where you might use Flash in order to score Warning Shot.

Hypothetical edge cases aside, you're generally going to be scoring Warning Shot because you just so happened to miss your attack.  So what are the odds of that happening on any given attack?  Let's use a concept we've used before - the "random-average defense (RAD)" - to see how often some common ranged attacks will miss.  For anyone new to Call it Shadespire, these percentages will represent an aggregate chance of how likely you are to miss against a randomly selected defender, based on the natural distribution of defense characteristics across all the available models.  You can find a more in-depth explanation here, if that kind of thing excites you.

Remember, the following chart represents a base attack's chance to fail (which includes ties).

 BASE MISS1d2d3d1s2s1g
2 Sword56%65%72%60%70%63%
3 Sword42%52%60%45%57%49%
4 Sword31%41%50%34%46%38%
2 Hammer/Swirly41%53%63%46%61%52%

Now, we're going to be making these attacks against all kinds of different defenses across multiple games, right?  That's where the random-average defender comes into play.  Let's start by using the distribution across all the available models currently in the game.  Given that, we'll get an overall chance to miss any given attack that looks like this:

2 Sword61%
3 Sword47%
4 Sword36%
2 Hammer/Swirly47%

These numbers give us an idea of how likely any given attack is going to be to miss versus a randomly chosen target from the whole list of the models available.  It's a useful metric, but it's not great for accurately representing the models you're likely to see in a competitive format.  So, let's integrate some data from the most recent tournament at Warhammer World (7/6/19).

Factor: Warhammer World

Largely because it's in Britain, and we aren't, we here at Call it Shadespire have never been to Warhammer World.  We imagine it to be a bit like Disney Land, if Disney Land were designed by people who were busy ignoring competitive game balance to address hard hitting questions like "What's more GrimDark: an angel that eats babies, or a baby that eats angels?"  We kid, we kid.

Regardless of its actual construction, Warhammer World seems to host a large number of very successful tournaments, the most recent of which occurred this week.  For that 82-person tournament, the representation by warband looked like this:

Garrek's Reavers0
Steelheart's Champions0
Sepulchral Guard2
Ironskull's Boyz1
The Chosen Axes2
Spiteclaw's Swarm2
The Farstriders1
Magore's Fiends4
Stormsire's Cursebreakers13
Thorns of the Briar Queen7
Eyes of the Nine2
Zarbag's Gitz7
Mollog's Mob11
The Godsworn Hunt7
Ylthari's Guardians13
Thundrk's Profiteers10

This lineup - where more people played Cursebreakers/Ylthari's than all the season 1 warbands combined - will cause some significant changes to our calculations.  Most noteably, there will be far fewer 1-dodge defenses, and far more 2-dodge defenses represented in our random-average defense.  When we use these ratios to calculate our miss chance, the numbers look more like this:

2 Sword61%
3 Sword48%
4 Sword37%
2 Hammer/Swirly48%

Huh -well that didn't change much.  That tells us some interesting things, that we'll look at in the final section of this article.  For now though, let's look at one more random-average statistic - this time using only the top 16 finishers at Warhammer World to calculate our random-average defender.  This will give us some insight into how often you're likely to be able to score Warning Shot in a very competitive environment.  The Top 16 looked like this:

Magore's Fiends1
Stormsire's Cursebreakers2
Thorns of the Briar Queen1
Eyes of the Nine0
Zarbag's Gitz0
Mollog's Mob5
The Godsworn Hunt3
Ylthari's Guardians2
Thundrk's Profiteers2

And that distribution gives us a new random-average defender, who is likely to avoid our ranged attacks at rates that look like this:

2 Sword62%
3 Sword48%
4 Sword37%
2 Hammer/Swirly49%

And these numbers are basically the same as before.  Well, that's also fairly instructive, but before we dig into the systemic ramifications of these calculations, let's try to answer the question we asked at the beginning of the article.  Should you play Warning Shot?

Factor: The Four Shot Round

Seeing the chance of missing on a given attack is useful, but there is a more mathematically significant way to look at the chance of scoring Warning Shot.  Let's take a look at two very common scenarios, at least for those warbands best equipped to score this Objective.  First, we'll look at the "four shot" round, ie. a round in which you make 4 ranged attacks.  This will likely be quite common for Profiteers, and fairly common for Eyes and Farstriders.  In a four shot round, you'll have the following chance to score Warning Shot, due to at least 1 of your shots missing (for all of these calculations, we'll be using the Top 16 numbers above, because we assume you are playing the game and reading this dreck because you want to win):

Four Shot RoundMISS%
2 Sword98%
3 Sword93%
4 Sword85%
2 Hammer/Swirly93%

Those are pretty good odds!  Regardless of what gun you're slinging, or who you are shooting at, you're very likely to be able to score Warning Shot in any round in which you fire off at least 4 shots.  Also, keep in mind that if you do defy the odds and hit every attack in a round, that means you hit every attack that round, which is generally considered to be pretty good.  You won't be able to shoot 4 times in every round, but let's assume that if you have Warning Shot in your hand, you're going to be trying to fire off at least a few range 3+ attacks in the round.  So what do your chances look like if you can only make 3 qualifying attacks (due to positioning, trying to score Keep them Guessing, etc)?

Three Shot RoundMISS%
2 Sword95%
3 Sword86%
4 Sword75%
2 Hammer/Swirly87%

Those are still pretty good odds.  It would seem that scoring Warning Shot is pretty close to a sure thing for anyone able to fire off 3 or more range 3+ attacks in any given round.

Detour: Incidental Radiologic Findings

"Incidental Radiologic Findings" is the euphemism that Radiologists use when they find something they weren't looking for on a scan.  For example, if you needed a CT scan to see if your persistent tummy-ache was due to colitis, and the CT showed you have lung cancer, that would be an "Incidental Radiologic Finding."  Suffice to say, it's not something you generally want to find on your scan, but it can be important.  The numbers we've looked at for Warhammer World in regard to defense stats can also point us toward some incidental radiologic findings about the state of Shadespire. 

First, people don't generally view the Season 1 warbands as competitive at a high level.  This can be seen in the fact that very few people brought them to the Warhammer World tournament. Every single Season 2 warband had more representation than any of the Season 1 warbands, except for Eyes of the Nine - which still saw as much play as any Season 1 warband except Magore's.

Second, the results seem to confirm that the Season 1 warbands don't do great at these large tournaments.  Only 1 of the top 16 players played a Season 1 warband.  The next-best Season 1 finish was 29th.

If GW wants to keep the Season 1 warbands up to par for the "world's most competitive miniatures game", they need to make some adjustments.  This is where our random-average defense data can actually help.  One thing we've seen a lot of players saying is that the base characteristics (stats) of the Season 2 warbands place them head and shoulders above the Season 1 warbands.  That's hard to argue with when you compare a model like K'rrk to one like Drakkenskewwer.  However, what we saw above helps to somewhat refute the idea that the primary problem is characteristic value - at least when it comes to defense.

The chance to hit a random-average defense from all the available models is essentially the same as that to hit a random-average defense from fields where Season 2 models made up 85% percent of the field (Warhammer World).  The same can even be said of a field where Season 2 models were 94% of the field (Top 16)!  What we are seeing then, is that the perceived gap in defense characteristics (something even we here at Call it Shadespire have bemoaned) between Season 1 and Season 2 warbands is not as significant as many think it is. 

There are still a number of factors that could be serious contributors to putting S2 warbands head and shoulders above their S1 counterparts; attack characteristics (esp range), warband-specific cards, and inspire mechanics come to mind.  But overall, GW seems to have done a fine job of keeping the median target for hitting an attack fairly level across the game's life.  Well done!


The most important factor in being able to score Warning Shot is the number of ranged attacks you can pull off in a round.  If you consistently make three or more range 3+ attacks in a given round, you should probably put Warning Shot in your deck.


  1. I think the most compelling use case for this card is not when you have the maximum chance to miss, it's actually when you have a ranged attack that will take an enemy fighter out of action. That way you are guaranteed a glory no matter what. In my mind the card is a lot like martyred, it's an insurance policy against a bad turn.

    1. Yeah, since it just sits in your hand until you can use it, I kind of see it the same way. I'm not going to deliberately use bad attacks (most of the time) just to score it, I'll just score it when it comes up.


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