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Baneblade Test Thread, Part II (Now with NDC changes!)

 Post subject: Baneblade Test Thread, Part II (Now with NDC changes!)
PostPosted: Sat Mar 17, 2018 4:27 pm 
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The venerable Baneblade is overdue for an overhaul. To recap quickly, the Baneblade compares poorly to other available choices in the Steel Legion list. It has jack-of-all-trades weapons similar to a Leman Russ, but low speed and lackluster damage output for the points you spend, especially at long range (and in the last thread I generated some damage output charts to support that). In terms of durability, it would compare well to the Leman Russ if it wasn't for the unforgiving crit result.

So after a lot of debate, we settled on a pair of changes to the Baneblade unit for playtesting:
    increase main gun to 2x AP/AT 3+
    change crit results to one additional point of damage

The new NetEA Development Committee (NDC) also did their first round of voting and proposed a different direction for fixing the Baneblade:
    Lower Baneblade cost to 175 points, upgrade to Shadowsword +25 points
    Lower Super-Heavy Company cost to 425 points, upgrade to Shadowsword +25 points each

I'm starting this thread to collect up all future discussion on these changes. I'll update this top post to collect battle report results for the different changes as they're posted. I'll also get the ball rolling in a minute by posting an updated set of charts to examine the effect of these changes on damage output for the Baneblade formations vs comparable formations/units.

If you have any comments on these changes or any new battle reports to support any of them, don't hesitate to post!

BATREP SUMMARY

Quote:
2x AP/AT3+ Baneblade Cannon
GrimDarkBits wrote:
Yvain fielded a single Baneblade and a single Shadowsword. They both hung out in the backfield laying down fire. The Shadowsword did some heavily lifting against the Ork Gargant, the Baneblade mostly laid down blast markers at long range and I think killed one Battlewagon.

It wasn't the best showing because it didn't exercise the mid-range shooting that makes the Baneblade worth taking, but it did give us a feel for what the two shot change means.

Our verdict was that:
    - two shots on the main cannon is in no way broken or overpowered. It feels like a more reasonable amount of firepower for what should be a fearsome weapon. It makes the tank not feel like a waste at that range
    - two shots on the main cannon does not feel like it's in line with the usual EA weapon stats. Yes the game is highly abstracted, but multiple shots are usually reserved for high ROF weapons

Blip wrote:
So I took a Baneblade Co for a spin last night against Dark Angels (UK). Pimped them out with a hydra and ogryns to make a beefy BTS and deter any raids by the Deathwing.

Unfortunately no time to record the whole game, but took notes of the BB performance.
...
On the whole, the 2 shots certainly made a difference - largely as i seemed unable to roll 5+ hits. The BB seemed much like a LRuss Co. Never as effective as you expect, but tough as old boots. Opponent agreed the change made them a little more effective, but nothing that really worried him. Main advantage was protecting my BTS objective as he only had terminators to really damage them and couldn't get in as i had them protected.

RugII wrote:
I've had the opportunity to test lone BBs and companies recently. I'm satisfied with the 2 shots but am still uncomfortable with their survivability. When they're up close the enemy and objectives (where they should be!) and you've invested time getting them there, a critical is far more.... um... critical in overall game terms than if a Shadowsword suffers one at extreme range..... and when Shadowsword gets a critical up close the attitude is "well it shouldn't have been there anyway!".

You rely on a Shadowsord's firepower rather than survivability, but with Baneblades there's just nothing all that reliable about them! I'm going to start testing a different crit result: "the Baneblade takes an extra point of damage" rather than "the Baneblade explodes" to see if this gives them a sufficient edge.

Blip wrote:
I’ve managed 3 games with the 2-shot variety BB Co.

First game they did almost nothing - just a silly lot of dice and it was game over in turn one. Not worth writing up.

3rd was pretty good - nice solid pivot for my army to wheel around. Have a report i just need to write up.

2nd really highlights the crit issue. Turn one, the first BB critted crossing a river and sank. The 2nd critted from first plinking shot by some doubling predators and the final one spent the rest of the game cowering on my blitz.

I would certainly welcome some kind of change to the crit!

GrimDarkBits wrote:
Got a new Steel Legion battle report up here that includes a Baneblade company. Unfortunately the game ended prematurely but the Baneblades acquitted themselves well, killing an Ork Battlefortress with two Oddboy power fields over the course of two rounds of shooting.

First round doubled, shot at 60cm, stripped the two fields and did 1 DC. Second round sustained fire, killing the Battlefortress and two gunwagons.

The Orks didn't get much of a chance to engage it but the shooting they attempted couldn't scratch the paint.

Talking to the opponent during and after, he said the Baneblades felt menacing. Their slow speed made them a little less useful than a Leman Russ company would have been, but they did the trick supporting my midfield objectives.

That battle report also highlights another weakness, namely that adding a Hydra to a Baneblade Co. is an invitation to lose your Hydra.

I think the firepower changes worked well and I would use the company again.

Graf_Spee wrote:
Have a batrep up in the eldar Ulthwe thread where I was using a single new layout baneblade with commissar that failed to hit absolutely anything with its complete set of weapons first turn and then spending the remainder of the game being broken. Hooray!

Results:
5 in favor
1 undetermined
0 against


Quote:
Change crit to one additional damage
No battle reports yet.


Quote:
NDC Price Adjustment
Steel Legion vs Tyranids 3K
mordoten and Norto wrote:
mordoten: First time ever playing IG. The point reductions on Basilisks and Baneblade Co gave me a warhound instead of a thunderbolts which was nice. The IG list could use some help since it never makes it to the top 3 in any tournaments i go to.

Norto: I liked the baneblades price drop. When they shot they still didn't seem like much. I was always thinking was that it. But they still were going to hard to shift so 425 seams like a good start.


3k NetEA Space Marines vs NetEA Imperial Guard - 2018-02-24
Dwarf Supreme wrote:
I usually don't take Baneblades, but with a point reduction I would probable take them more often. The overall points reductions essentially gave me an extra activation.


Results:
2 in favor
0 undetermined
0 against


Last edited by GrimDarkBits on Sat Mar 17, 2018 7:33 pm, edited 5 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Baneblade Test Thread, Part II (Now with NDC changes!)
PostPosted: Sat Mar 17, 2018 4:52 pm 
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Theres one battle report up with the NDC proposed price adjustment. Steel legion vs Tyranids.

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 Post subject: Re: Baneblade Test Thread, Part II (Now with NDC changes!)
PostPosted: Sat Mar 17, 2018 7:10 pm 
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As promised, I've done some math on the NDC proposal.

Review
The basic idea here is to compare the damage output of the Baneblade to a similar unit in the list and whose formation is regarded as worth taking. In this case we're comparing a Baneblade Company to a Leman Russ Company (swapping one Leman Russ for a Leman Russ Vanquisher). In my experience, the Leman Russ Company is fun to field, scary to face, synergizes well with the rest of the list, and doesn't draw any criticism for being over- or under-powered. It's also got the same 4+ RA as the Baneblade, the same CC and FF per DC, and a similar ranged weapons loadout, all of which make the comparison easier. We'll also compare a single Baneblade to the Leman Russ Tank Squadron upgrade just for kicks.

For each case, I calculated the percent chance of doing a given number of hits. Hits are then weighted by point value to give a % chance of scoring a given number of hits per point.

I also adjusted the point value of each formation by subtracting the cost of a "naked" activation. This helps make the comparison fair between the single Baneblade formation and the Leman Russ Tank Platoon upgrade.

A full description of the methodology and the results comparing the proposed Baneblade cannon changes from the first test thread can be found here. In those charts, I estimated the value of an activation at 25 points.

New Stuff
I've repeated the same calculations here for three cases:
    Baneblade Platoon/Baneblade Co. with no changes
    2x AP3/AT3 Baneblade cannon (the original proposed change)
    Baneblade Platoon -25 pts, Baneblade Company -75 pts (the NDC Proposal)

My comparisons again are the Leman Russ Tank Squadron and the Leman Russ Tank Company with one Vanquisher.

I'm not going to show the charts again unless requested, because I think there's a more compact way to compare the "quality" of the changes. For each test case I'm calculating what I'm calling Normalized Damage:
Quote:
Normalized Damage = Sum( (Test Case Normalized Hits) * (Test Case % chance to hit) ) / Sum( (Control Case Normalized Hits) * (Control Case % chance to hit) )

As an example, check out this plot:
Image

To get the Normalized Damage in Firefight for the Baneblade Company, you move along the blue line (Baneblade Co) and multiply the weighted number of hits (x axis) times the chance of doing that many hits (y axis) and add it all up. The better your changes are of doing a high number of hits per point, the higher this number will be.

Do the same math for the orange line (Leman Russ Co) and then divide. Now you have a ratio - if the Normalized Damage is greater than 1, the Baneblade Co will probably do more damage than the Leman Russ Co. If the Normalized Damage is less than 1, it's the opposite.

Results
Now that I've explained how I did my dodgy math, here are the results for the test cases we're looking at. I normalized the damage for each test case against the Leman Russ control groups. I also ran the numbers for three different "naked" activation point values, from 0 to 50 pts, because I'm sure people will quibble over what should be subtracted.

Image

Point for point, the Baneblade compares pretty well to the Leman Russ in Close Combat and Firefight and within 30cm range even without making changes. Both the 2x Shots change and the Point Drop improve the damage output significantly compared to the Leman Russ controls at less than 30cm. Both options are putting out 10% to 20% more AT damage and 30%+ more AP damage at close range.

As we move up through the range bands, the Point Drop looks less and less attractive. Dropping the points basically helps maintain some parity with the Leman Russ at AP and keeps the tank from absolutely stinking at AT (although the Point Drop case still stinks beyond 45 cm). Meanwhile the 2 Shot variant is kicking butt at 31-45cm AP and is dead even with the Leman Russ at 31-45cm AT and at everything beyond 45cm.

Conclusions
I think the NDC Point Drop proposal has some merit. Probably the only thing the Baneblade has in its favor versus the Leman Russ right now is the overall cost: you can currently buy a Baneblade Company for 150 points cheaper than a Leman Russ company. Sure it's crap, but it's durable and it lets you fit more into your list (and it's even more durable now point-for-point).

The problem here is that the Point Drop takes a sort of crappy unit and makes it cheaper. You're still slow, and you still have very poor damage output at long range even after you normalize based on points. The cheaper Baneblade Company does not stack up well to the Leman Russ Company as a breakthrough unit, but with a new total cost of 425 points, I think you might take it as a Blitz Guard.

Meanwhile the 2 Shot proposal still seems worth considering. Point-for-point you can deal the same damage or more as a Russ Company, and if we combine this with the proposed Crit change I think durability is no longer an issue either. These are more precisely targeted changes - we're improving the specific things the Baneblade is bad at.

However, neither of these proposals address all the issues. You're still slow enough that you'll have some trouble bringing your deadly short range shooting to bear, and you won't be able to keep up with your mechanized units. Additionally, if you add a Hydra, it can potentially be sniped away.

One final note to make is that while making the formation cheaper does help make the Baneblade Co. more attractive, it also starts to box you in. If you want to fix the long range damage issue or tamp down on the Crit effect, do you need to increase the price? How cheap is too cheap for 9 DC worth of 4+ RA? I feel like you start boxing yourself into the problems the AMTL lists have (slow, very tough WE that can't deal sufficient damage to make up their points).


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 Post subject: Re: Baneblade Test Thread, Part II (Now with NDC changes!)
PostPosted: Sat Mar 17, 2018 10:56 pm 
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This whole NDC thing has completely passed me by, the changes proposed are nothing like what been proposed and tested very slowly but steadily for years.... basically the EUK list with further upgrade price drops, baneblade 2 shot and critical changes, Chimera for Stormtroops and a few others, I'll link the thread when I've time/a decent connection!

Generally I'm opposed to points changes, particularly for Bombards and Baneblades as it adds further rows to the list and utterly invalidates what came before. If someone turns up with an army constructed from an old list I'd rather them be pleasantly surprised their units have been buffed than find they're playing short on points.

Where formation and upgradess simply are not being taken price drops ar moree appropriate. Artillery Batteries and SHT companies are not uncommon.

Manticores are covered in giant missiles so I can appreciate a 6+ save, I've always felt Bobards deserve the same 5+ save as Basilisks. I'd also like to see mixed Batteries tested too as well as Bombards being an option in Artillery Companies.

I'm not saying the changes won't work/balance, the Steel Legion is a very stable and forgiving list and it's up to the community, the changes simply don't appeal to my sense of order! In my view there's arise of a slide towards the list bloating... The Artillery Battery becoming three different Batteries, the SHT Company becoming 2 different companies, Helhound and Griffon formations etc.


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 Post subject: Re: Baneblade Test Thread, Part II (Now with NDC changes!)
PostPosted: Sat Mar 17, 2018 11:31 pm 
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With what the NDC thing is about becoming more clear I'm going to be largely taking this as a kick up the arse to speeds things up a bit... I've been slow!

Since we already have a Baneblade test thread that a lot of people have put a lot of effort in to, to keep discussion together I'm going to lock this one for reference only.


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