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Cardiology: Champions of Sigmar

Decision: Should You Play Champions of Sigmar?


I mean, no - you probably shouldn't play it.  But maybe do anyway?  C'mon.  Play it.  It's coolIt's actually quite strong if you can pull off the support requirement.  It's hard to do with Hammerbois only getting 3 fighters, but if you're the kind of person who consistently manages to swing with support, this card grants a HUGE bonus to hit.  We're honestly on the fence about it.

Factor: Accuracy

Why would you play Champions of Sigmar in the first place?  You want more of your attacks hit, of course.  So we need to start by looking at how it compares to options that are already available.  If we think very hard, like Winnie-the-Pooh-hard, we'll find that there are really only a few outcomes that can occur when we play Champions.
  • Our attack missed (in which case Champions didn't matter)
  • Our attack would have missed, but tied instead because of Champions
  • Our attack would have tied, but hit instead because of Champions
  • Our attack hit (Champions didn't matter)
We aren't interested in the times the card does nothing (that's the dark side of statistics).  And while the idea of tying to force drive-back by increasing our chance to tie is interesting, for now we're going to focus on the 3rd scenario above, where our attack and defense rolls would have tied, but thanks to Champions, we hit.  Fortunately, just a couple of weeks ago, we looked at Upper Hand, which functionally does the same thing - so we know that breaking ties in your favor is very good.

When we were looking at Upper Hand, there was at least a small seed of hope that it wouldn't work on 0-0 ties (it does, so it got restricted).  No such question exists when we look at Champions of Sigmar, because it doesn't use the "tied" language at all, it simply adds an innate success if we can meet it's requirements.  When we factor in the various attacks and defenses, the increased chance to hit from Champions of Sigmar looks kind of like this (we are only including 2 and 3 hammer attacks here, because that's all the Condemners have):

Champions of Sigmar w/ ties


Ignore those numbers!  The correct chart is below:

Champions of Sigmar w/ ties


Where does that place Champions in comparison to that old staple, Determined Effort?  Well, it's not nearly quite as rosy a picture as it was for Upper Hand.  For starters, you can't save Champions for when you need it, you have to play it before your activation.  Champions is also obviously restricted to a single warband, and the attacks that warband gets generally benefit more strongly from extra dice than from breaking a tie.  Let's look at the actual numbers, with positive numbers (green highlighted) being situations in which Champions gives a better bonus to hit than Determined Effort:

Champions vs. Determined Effort


We did it bad, the real chart is this one:

Champions vs. Determined Effort


Yikes.  When Champions is better, it's not much better.  And most of the time it's worse.  The shrewd and loyal reader may be asking themselves something along the lines of:
  • If Champions of Sigmar and Upper Hand do the same thing, why is one good and the other bad?
 The answer to that question is actually deceptively simple...

Champions is really good!  Not quite as good as Upper Hand, but really good!

Factor: Support

For Champions of Sigmar to function at all, you need your models to be in a position where your attacker has more supporters than the defender.  This makes the half-moon symbol a success, both on the dice you roll and in terms of the innate result granted by Champions.  Otherwise, you're just throwing failed dice results onto your roll.   Therefore, for both of the cards we're looking at in this section, we assumed the die roll in question would be benefiting from support.

Unfortunately for those of us who want to play Champions of Sigmar (ie. me), having support makes your rolls far less likely to tie against your opponent.  Additionally, having support also makes getting extra dice much better.  So in the vast majority of cases where you could play Champions of Sigmar to any effect, you'd be better off just playing dumb-ol' boring Determined Effort. 

Everything in this section still applies, but the conclusion we drew was wrong, because our initial math was wrong.  Champions performs better than Determined when you can get the support to use it.

Factor: Bias

So why do I like this card so much, even knowing that it's not as good as bog-standard alternatives that are widely available?  Bias.  I love the design space opened up by innate supports.  They aren't as overpowering as innate successes, but they still provide a significant swing to your odds of hitting.     The effect of Champions of Sigmar is subtle, but powerful in the right situation.  The implementation is clever, and it takes a overwrought mechanic (innate) and makes it cool again.  It also forces you to play in a way that is thematic and fun.  If you want the bonus, your guys have to work together.  (I love this card.)

GW has tried to force this playstyle with a number of power cards, but none have been good enough (so far) to succeed at drastically increasing the importance of support.  Champions of Sigmar probably comes the closest is good enough to actually pull it off, despite how hard it is to get support in a 3-model armyIf it had been a Gitz card, it might see some high level play.  If it had worked on defense as well as offense, it would probably be useable.  Hell, if it was a reaction, people might run it over play-it-first bonuses just so that they never felt like they were "wasting" a power card on a bad roll.  Champions of Sigmar comes close - really close - to being a great card.  And there's very little in this world that a slacker like me holds dear more than a lovable failure. <---This aged well.  >.<

Factor: Pet Cards

However, it's important to point out that getting hung up on pet cards can be detrimental to our ability to play competitively and win.  In an online conversation regarding Tom Bond's excellent Godsworn Hunt article, one poster lamented that Tom hadn't mentioned Dark Portent and suggested that it was better than Rebound.

Let's take a look at that statement mathematically.  Dark Portents has the potential to prevent damage from being done to your model.  Rebound has the same potential, but also slings the damage back at the attacker.  So, against a given X-strength attack, Dark Portents is an X-damage "swing", and Rebound is a 2X-damage "swing."  In order for Dark Portents to be better than Rebound, it needs to take effect more than twice as often.

Rebound takes effect 33% of the time that it's used - pretty simple.  The efficacy of Dark Portents is a little harder to calculate, but we can say that it's maximum effectiveness is the percent chance of your opponent rolling at least one critical.  After all, if your opponent doesn't roll a critical on the attack, Dark Portents does nothing.

On any given attack, your opponent has the following chance to roll at least one critical, based on how many dice they are rolling:
  • 1 die: 16.67%
  • 2 dice: 30.56%
  • 3 dice: 42.13%
  • 4 dice: 51.77%
  • 5 dice: 59.81%
So, while there are certainly cases where Dark Portents is more likely to prevent damage than Rebound (3+ dice), there is no commonly encountered situation where Dark Portents is better than Rebound.

That's not to say Dark Portents (or Champions of Sigmar) isn't useful.  We get 10 gambits - because you certainly aren't playing more than 20 power cards,  are you eggplant?  So you might want to double up on cards that do similar things.  Cards like Dark Portents are great for that - there are only so many emergency life-savers available.  Unfortunately, Champions of Sigmar falls into a category where similar cards - those that boost accuracy - are abundant.  And because of that, it probably shouldn't find it's way into your deckDespite it's stringent restrictions on when it can be useful, Champions of Sigmar provides such a strong bonus to accuracy that it probably warrants testing!


Even though Champions of Sigmar is a brilliant piece of card design, it probably isn't good enough for competitive play.  It's positioning requirement doesn't suit a 3-fighter warband well, but the bonus it provides to hit is very large. and the bonus derived just isn't very impressive when compared with cards that provide similar effects.  However, it is a solid step in the right direction for GW and we might honestly suggest you play it just to encourage them to make more cards like it. 


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