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Cardiology: Bull Charge

Decision: Should You Play Bull Charge?

TL;DR:

Beastmen strong like bull, smart like tractor.  Bull Charge good.

Factor: Ties

At first glance, getting innate results really throws a monkey wrench into accuracy calculations.  But, as we've discussed in our article on Champions of Sigmar, Innate results on attack rolls really only matter when your attack would have tied without the innate.  And just like the Hammerbois of Dreadfane, the Cattlefolk of Beastgrave only have a few attacks on which Bull Charge will be applicable.  So in reality, the math on Bull Charge is actually pretty simple.

Bull Charge






1d2d3d1b2b1gAVG
2 Sword (x8)36%30%24%33%23%30%29.3%
3 Sword (x6)27%24%21%26%20%25%23.8%
AVG31.5%26.8%22.4%29.4%21.7%27.1%

Wow!  Those are very strong numbers - creeping close to an Upper Hand level of accuracy.  Let's compare them to Determined Effort:

Bull vs Determined






1d2d3d1b2b1gAVG
2 Sword (x8)22%17%12%18%10%16%15.8%
3 Sword (x6)16%13%11%15%9%14%12.9%
AVG19.0%14.8%11.4%16.4%9.7%14.6%

When you can meet the conditions, Bull Charge is significantly better than Determined Effort.

So, you may ask yourself, why are these numbers so good, and the bonus from Champions of Sigmar so low?  Well, the answer is very simple - we are dumb.  In the Champions of Sigmar article, we forgot to factor in 0-success ties into our math.  This has now been corrected in that article.  Turns out Champions of Sigmar is pretty good too (if you can manage the support)!

Factor: Limitations

While the accuracy bonus from Bull Charge is better than that from Determined Effort, Bull Charge's restrictions on use are significantly more stringent.  For starters, you can only use Bull Charge on attacks that hit on swords (technically you could use it on any attack, but it's only helpful to sword attacks).  That means that your leader can't make use of Bull Charge at all - confirming our suspicion that Fellhoof is in fact a steer.  Farm humor!  Similarly, Draknar can only use Bull Charge when inspired.  Everyone else can use Bull Charge on either side of their hero card, but that also comes with a bit of a caveat.

The Despoilers' inspire condition works in such a way that when one model inspires, they all do.  When that happens, everyone but Fellhoof gains a 3-sword attack.  As you can see above, Bull Charge helps significantly less on 3-sword attacks than it does on 2-sword attacks.  So as the game goes into the later stages (when your models are likely to be inspired), Bull Charge becomes less good. We'll return to look at this issue in the next section, but for now just keep in mind that you want to draw and use Bull Charge in the early game.

Finally, Bull Charge is only usable on charge attacks during an activation.  First, that means you can't benefit from Bull Charge during additional attacks that occur outside the activation sequence (not that there are many of these floating around in the new meta).  Second, it means you have to charge.  This is certainly a limitation but it probably doesn't mean a whole lot to the Cowbros, as they are likely to be charging a lot anyway.

Factor: Time

As discussed above, Bull Charge has some limitations that make it less universally applicable than Determined Effort.  Before we tumble too far down this hole, it's worth pointing out that these limitations are a net negative on usefulness.  However, these restrictions on when you can play Bull Charge actually do have some synergy with the way the Farmlads are designed to perform.

As we stated earlier, Bull Charge provides more of a bonus to attack accuracy on 2-sword attacks than 3-sword ones.  That means that it benefits you more to play Bull Charge pre-inspiration for most of your fighters.  But a stronger accuracy boost isn't the only benefit you reap from playing Bull Charge early.   First, your boss gets ritual counters for each enemy you kill, providing you with more accuracy boosts later on.  If you use Bull Charge to get an early kill, you essentially get double duty out of it, as you bank an additional reroll for later.  Similarly, you'll want to inspire your cows as soon as possible, and an early kill off Bull Charge gets you halfway there.  Finally, your fighters are pretty fragile, so you're going to lose some of them as the game progresses.  As you have fewer fighters on the board, Charge actions become more costly in terms of action economy.  Therefore, you're better off spending your charges early in the game (and maybe racking up some glory off Stampede).

GW has, once again, shown some clever design with the restrictions on this card.  At the risk of blowing our carefully crafted hypercritical persona, GW seems to be really upping their game in terms of  effective card mechanics.  An unrestricted innate attack bonus would likely be too strong for a ploy - and instead of throwing some random restrictions on use, the card designers managed to implement some subtle guidance on how to best utilize this card into the restrictions on it.  That's actually quite impressive!

Summary:

Bull Charge provides some much needed accuracy to a warband that is deeply dependent on chaining together multiple early kills in order to succeed.  When used correctly, Bull Charge essentially provides you with a second copy of Upper Hand, and should probably be in every Despoilers deck. 

Comments

  1. Hi Stephen,

    Great run-down as always.

    I'm curious about your strong recommendation though, as I see a few weaknesses (though excellent design). It seems like you can use Bull Charge efficiently in terms of action economy and quick inspiration, or efficiently in net damage increase, based on whether or not you wait to be able to use it on Draknar.

    When Bull Charge is used early, the gelded Fellhoof and the (prepubescents?) Draknar are ineligible targets, meaning you're left with Murghoth and change. In this case, is a second copy of Upper Hand still useful enough to use on a two damage two attack dice fighter?

    If you wait for Draknar to come online, is it worth holding back when you could have been using it above? Secondly, how does it compare to using a ritual counter, potion of range or blood taunt?

    I'm not sure whether that all makes sense, but I'm not entirely convinced by it.


    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I would say that hitting vs. missing attacks is the single most important modifiable factor contributing to success for most warbands. And playing gitz has taught me that 2 damage attacks aren't negligible.

      As for comparisons - gaining 2 dice (like potion of rage, etc) gives you a 33% chance to gain an extra sword result (so strictly worse than Bull Charge) but also gives you a 33% chance to pick up an extra crit (much better than Bull Charge). I'd say it's likely a wash in the long run vs. 2 dice. I'd take Bull Charge over a single extra die or reroll every time.

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