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Cardiology: Momentary Madness

Decision: Should You Play Momentary Madness?

TL;DR:

We had high hopes, but alas...the answer is no.

Intro: First Impressions

If you're anything like us, your first impression of Momentary Madness was likely very positive.  "Wow," you mumbled around a mouthful of peanut-butter Clif Bar "that seems really good!"  But after a bit of actual play, you probably changed your mind, much like we did.  Peanut-butter Clif Bars really aren't that good, and neither was Momentary Madness. 

One tricky thing about Madness is that it feels like it should be really good.  We think that can be attributed in part to the fact that you use your opponent's model to make the attack.  Does that really matter though? 

Long answer: "Yes" with an "if."  Short answer: "No" with a "but."

To keep things relatively concise, let's just hammer out the big points.  The fact that you attack with an opponent's model does matter in that you really can't score objectives off the attack, since your warband isn't making it.  So in most cases, the attack from Madness is strictly worse than a normal attack from one of your guys.  Now, if your attacks are severely mismatched, you may gain some numerical advantage, but most of the time you'd be better off just playing a card that grants your model an extra attack.  Of course, a card that grants you a free attack without significant restrictions wouldn't be very fair, would it, Ready for Action?

Since you're not scoring objectives off the attack, the main purpose of Madness has to be that it has the potential to kill the opponent's models.  And killing good ol' Stormspire with an attack from his best friend Ammis (sorry, Rastus, you're not BFF material) really feels good.  But it's not inherently any better than killing Stormspire with Dibbz.  It just seems really cool to use your opponent's attacks against them.  And that's likely why that first impression of Momentary Madness didn't match up very well with it's actual utility.

Recently, however, there have been some changes to the game that may have increased the usefulness of Momentary Madness.  Most notably: ranged attacks.

Rising Action: Changes

As we've mentioned in previous articles, the number of Range 2 and 3 attacks drastically increased since the release of Nightvault.  Every Season 2 warband has at least one Range 2 or 3 attack, and many have multiple options.  While this change doesn't directly improve the potential damage output of Momentary Madness, it does drastically increase the number of opportunities to use the card.  Against a warband with only Range 1 attacks (like fully half of the warbands in Season 1), your opponent had to stand two of their nerds next to each other in order for you to try to turn them on one another.  Now, with the abundance of long-range attacks in the game, you're much more likely to be able to use Momentary Madness at any given point in your match.

This is particularly true in the early game.  It's rare indeed that you will see an opponent who sets up all of their models on starting hexes in such a way that there isn't at least one that is in range of another.  Similarly, the proliferation of lethal-hex boards due to the popularity of Calculated Risk has upped the chance that you'll be able to finish off an opponent's model in the first power phase with Momentary Madness.  But how likely is it to actually work?

Climax: The Reveal

It would be difficult for us to assess the usefulness of Momentary Madness if we had to calculate it's odds of landing and doing damage on every possible attack in the game against every possible defense; like, choking-down-a-peanut-butter-Clif-Bar difficult.  Luckily, we don't really have to do that.  Since your opponent's attacking model will necessarily come from the same warband as their defending model, we really only need to evaluate the attacks of a warband against itself.

Even with that restriction, that would still be pretty difficult.  So instead, let's  just look at best-case scenarios.  If the best possible usage of Momentary Madness doesn't add up to being at least as good as the alternatives, it's probably not worth using.  For a convenient comparison, we'll be using the increasingly popular Encroaching Shadow - another card that does damage but requires specific positioning to be useful.  If Momentary Madness doesn't do at least 1 damage per average use in the best case scenario, it's probably not even worth considering.

The following chart lists the average damage done by Momentary Madness when using the best attack in a warband against the worst defense in that warband:

WarbandAvg Dmg
Garrek's Reavers0.89
Steelheart's Champions0.98
Sepulchral Guard1.11
Ironskull's Boyz1.05
The Chosen Axes1.30
Spiteclaw's Swarm0.89
The Farstriders0.81
Magore's Fiends1.17
Stormsire's Cursebreakers1.05
Throns of the Briar Queen0.87
Eyes of the Nine1.25
Zarbag's Gitz0.78
Mollog's Mob1.18
Godsworn Hunt0.89
Ylthari's Guardians0.74
Thundrik's Guardians0.81
Ironsoul's Condemnors1.05
Lady Harrow's Mournflight0.72
Average0.97

There are a few things we should keep in mind here.  First, the above scenarios often include an inspired attacker swinging into an uninspired defender - this likely won't be possible much of the time.  Second, these numbers represent the best possible numeric advantage, which is most often (with a few exceptions, like Sepulchral Guard) represented by a Ranged 1 attack.  That negates the advantage we talked about above. 

Overall, even in an absolute best case scenario, it looks like Momentary Madness very slightly underperforms Encroaching Shadow.  Oh well, back in the binder it goes.

Conclusion:

So it turns out things haven't changed that much after all.  While recent changes have made Momentary Madness a better option than when it was released, it's still probably not worth slotting in, given that there are several viable position-based options that simply do 1 damage every time.

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