1 in 6 Times, it Works Every Time!


Face Puncher shoots us a guest editorial on the value of the 6+ save.

How good is a 6+ save?

Hey everyone. I really like assault armies and I like, and own, a lot of Space Marines. I am also a competitive minded gamer. Can you see the problem(hint, hint. Shooting dominates the competitive meta)? Fortunately I think there are a lot of great assault builds in the new codex SM. While there is a lot to talk about, what I want to discuss today is the value of the die roll 6+. Specifically the ability granted by Grimaldus’s cenobyte servitors (6++ to models within 6”). I say “discuss” because I am not sold on either side. I am writing this because I do not really have a definitive opinion about it yet but hope to work that out by the end of the article and with your feedback. Just a warning though, this article is a bit “mathy mathy” and may be BORING to some readers, but if you want to improve your game and your understanding of numbers then it might be worth a look

Here is the official question: Is a 6+ invulnerable competitively valuable given the limited dice rolling count of a single game?

You should note that I will be operating under the assumption that in a 7-8 round tournament you are required to win all of your games in order to take first place.

My initial answer would be a resounding “NO.”  For a 1/6th reduction of save-denied model removal to be useful requires that the sample size of rolling for a 6++ be large enough for the outcome to converge with the statistical probability of “1 out of every 6.”

 Borel’s Law of Large Numbers states that if an experiment is repeated a large number of times, independently under identical conditions, then the proportion of times that any specified event occurs approximately equals the probability of the event’s occurrence on any particular trial; the larger the number of repetitions, the better the approximation tends to be. What this says to me is that while the amount of times I role and get a 6++ will eventually conform to the estimated 16.67% success rate, the probability of it conforming to a 16.67% success rate over the course of ONE game is very unlikely.

IF you want to skip all that jargon, essentially I am saying that you will not reduce your otherwise un-savable wounds by 1/6th every game. A game simply does not have the sample size to grant consistency with a 6++ save. In some games you might make 30% of your 6++ saves and others you may make a mere 3%.

In my experience, tournaments are NOT won by the army with the most potential damage output/reduction, but by armies with the highest consistent damage output/reduction. No joke, occasionally the 6++ save will be really amazing and will really bust your opponent’s balls at a crucial moment, but more likely than not, it is too situational and unreliable as an essential game winning mechanic.

So what do you think about this analysis? Am I off or am I missing something vital?


About Reecius

The fearless leader of the intrepid group of gamers gone retailers at Frontline Gaming!

35 Responses to “1 in 6 Times, it Works Every Time!”

  1. Salamanders4lyfe September 19, 2013 5:19 am #

    I think the most important thing a 6++ save gives you is the “chance” to make a save where as without it you would just remove the model. The more dice you can throw for saves the better right? Without going into game economics, how much is that chance worth to you?

    • David Key September 19, 2013 8:58 am #

      I think “how much is that chance worth to you?” is an accurate assessment. I would always prefer an extra save to not, but the question becomes what is the opportunity cost. In this case it would be the point cost of Grimaldus or in the case of the Iron Hands, you do not get to take any of the sweet other chapter tactics. So is it worth it to not be Ultramarines for a 6+ FNP or the ability to take Grimaldus as a BT.

  2. Captn Dees September 19, 2013 6:49 am #

    It all comes down to cost. Getting a 6+ FNP as part of your Iron Hands Chapter Tactics is money!

    Spending well over 200 points to get a fancy chaplain to give a 6″ bubble for a 6++ save is not worth it. At first I though maybe it was any units within 6″ but no it is MODEL. So even if you take all 3 and spread them out in a big squad how many models am I really saving? For Landraider cost… this is fail.

    I would love to find a way to make Grim work but no matter how I slice it I’m just not seeing it. If it had been any unit instead of model, of FNP, or a bigger range… but as is bleh. BLEH I say!

    • David Key September 19, 2013 9:01 am #

      Yeah, that was my conclusion as well. I really want to make it work, but it does not seem to be worth it. As far as the Iron hands go though, I am also not as certain. Yes, a 6+ FNP is a benfit, but is it worth NOT being Ultramarines or WhiteScars or Imperial Fists? You have to potentially give up a lot in order to have the 6+ FNP.

      • Captn Dees September 19, 2013 9:10 am #

        I don’t think I’d ever play Iron Hands for the 6++ FNP but as an addition to playing a tank based marine force with It Will Not Die it is a nice perk!

    • David September 19, 2013 9:09 am #

      I think this is exactly right. Iron Hands get their regular save AND THEN a 6+, and they don’t have to take a lousy chaplain in order to do it. IH is not my favorite Chapter Tactic, but if you are concerned about keeping marines alive, this is clearly a better defensive option that Grimaldus..

      • Reecius September 19, 2013 9:43 am #

        Yes, FnP is the only save you can take additionally to your best save (be it cover, armor, invul, etc.). That is why the IH Chapter Tactics are so bad ass. It is a 16.67% increase in durability…for free!

      • David Key September 19, 2013 9:56 am #

        I think the 6+ FNP is boss too. It is not what I am talking about in this article because it is A: and additional save on top of your other junk, and B: The sample size will be much larger over the course of a game for a 6+FNP such that it might actually converge on its probability of 16.37%.

      • David Key September 19, 2013 9:58 am #

        Good point, and dude… you have the same name as me. Not cool, I spent like a minute staring at your comment and being like “WTF??? When did I say that???” before I realized it was a different icon. lol

        • David September 19, 2013 2:09 pm #

          I humbly apologize. From now on, I’ll only post on Frontline articles using a different name. Probaly “A Very Different David”, if that fits.

          • Reecius September 20, 2013 9:22 am

            How about the Best David? =)

  3. jy2 September 19, 2013 7:16 am #

    All I can say is….frickn’ 6++!!!

    Played against a triptide list with my Rune Priest Space Wolves. He 6+ denied 3 of my attempts to Jaws his frickin tides!

    FU 6++! LOL!!! 😀

    • David Key September 19, 2013 9:19 am #

      I know right! If nothing else, any needed 6+ roll generates DRAMA. I have a ton of “Steal the Initiative” stories” as well as that stupid single GK strike marines insta-gibbing Mephiston on the 6+ to wound…

  4. Ty September 19, 2013 7:56 am #

    This analysis seems very poorly thought out. While it’s true that you need a large sample size for the 6++ save to conform to its expected outcome, the same is true of any save. A 3++ save is going to have an even higher standard deviation than a 6++ save given the same sample size.

    The problem isn’t that a 6++ save isn’t consistent enough, it’s that it isn’t good enough. You make the save too rarely for it to have much impact on an average game.

    • David Key September 19, 2013 9:32 am #

      I am not sure I understand what mean. The Law of Large Numbers would indicate that given a large sample size both a 6+ and a 3+ would conform eventual converge on their single event statistical probability of 16.67% and 66.67% respectively.

      I do not understand what the standard deviation has to do with my point, but maybe I could be clearer in the article. Thanks for the imput!

      • Ty September 20, 2013 6:53 am #

        The point was that both are very unlikely to converge on their expected outcome in one game. Therefore if you conclude that 6++ is bad simply for that reason, then logically you must conclude the same thing about 3++.

  5. Sean Ireland September 19, 2013 8:19 am #

    The above highlights one of the problems with marines, they can be streaky.

    I think the imperial fist chapter tactics could end up doing quite well if an army is built around it.

    • Reecius September 19, 2013 9:23 am #

      We tried that yesterday, with a 6 man Centurion squad and 2 Heavy Bolter Dev squads….ouch! Against an infantry army it is devastating.

    • David Key September 19, 2013 9:39 am #

      That is a great point! I really like re-rolls. Re-rolls=consistency! I think both Ultramarines and IF have some really big consistency tools now that should make them a lot less streaky.

      • Reecius September 19, 2013 9:42 am #

        Re-rolls are one of the best things in 40K, you nailed it when you said it = consistency. They bring you so much closer to an average. As while you may occasionally roll 6 dice and get 4 ones, you are exponentially less likely to pick up the dice and do it again.

  6. steven morrow September 19, 2013 8:24 am #

    I cut would cut someones throat to have an independent character with a 6inch zealot bubble and 3 6inch invulnerable save bubbles in my chaos space marine army. 6++ is still a 6++ Yes please! And for black Templars who can have huge cheap bolter squads with admantium will and crusader as stock at that.

    • steven morrow September 19, 2013 9:46 am #

      of course i would not pay 2 points a model to get a 6++ on my chaos space marines, so paying up to 50 extra points for 3 6inch bubbles is no frikkin way.

      • David Key September 19, 2013 10:00 am #

        Yep. That is pretty much what I came too also. It is really hard to shrug off the idea of a big horde of BT marines running at you shrugging off lascannons and shit…. Maybe someday I get to live the dream. HA

        • steven morrow September 19, 2013 10:09 am #

          there isnt a marine player out there who doesnt want to live the dream of a horde of marines crushing all before them lol

          • David Key September 19, 2013 11:31 am


  7. Isaac September 19, 2013 8:27 am #

    Any save is better than none at all. At least you have a chance of keeping the wound. And if the dice are hot it can really help look Jy2 got his witch denied (is that a term? if not it should be) 3 times. Any sort of save FTW

    • David Key September 19, 2013 10:04 am #

      I agree. Having a save is better than not having a save, but this save cost almost 200 points?!&% I have also won(and lost) many games due to “hot dice.” The flip side of that though is that many games are lost do to “cold dice.” In a tournament, you cannot have cold dice even once. That is why I prefer less powerful but consistent effects for my tournament armies.

  8. LordOfTexas September 19, 2013 8:34 am #

    This article is not really coherent or thorough. It poses the question, “Are 6++ saves competitively viable?” yet completely ignores the “cost” side of the equation. Imagine if an army had the option to buy a 6+ invulnerable save for their entire army for 5 points. THAT could be game or tournament winning, given the cost – reducing unsaved wounds (that wouldn’t have gotten armor or cover saves otherwise) by (on average) 1/6th could be game-changing depending on how the variance swings. If I said the same boon cost 200 points? Yeah, you’d never take it.

    The article touches on a point that might have had some worth in exploring (high-variance mechanics vs low-variance mechanics) but then fails to offer any actual analysis besides “my experience favors low-variance lists over high-variance lists”. If that’s so, give us some actual reasoning or else you haven’t made much of a case.

    • David Key September 19, 2013 9:49 am #

      Hmmm. That is pretty tough feedback. I would say it is focused and short. I intentionally left the opportunity cost out of the article because… well… it seemed pretty obvious. The point of the article was to explore a certain “boon,” to use your term and try to establish its value. I am also reticent to rely on anything but my experience at the end of the day. The article is simply my opinion and I do not want to be the guy that says “Your Grimaldus BT army sucks.” Who knows, I could be wrong. I am sorry you did not enjoy it.

  9. Castle September 20, 2013 4:50 am #

    It would depend on the cost your attributing to the ability to gain this 6++ save. Since Grimaldus and 1 servitor costs 215pts then are you just purchasing it for this ability? Would you have gotten a Chaplain anyway? If so would you equip him similarly? You have to subtract the costs that you would have spent anyway on a similar HQ to determine how much your spending on this ability. Once you have that you can look at what unit your giving this ability to and then roughly figure out how many saves you have to make in order for the points to no be wasted. For example if you determine the cost to be about 50pts for the ability and you are using it to give tac marines a 6++ then everytime they are wounded by a ap3 or better weapon you can say that you “gain” 2.33pts(due to 1/6 *14) meaning you would have to be wounded 21.429 times by ap3 or better weapons before the ability would make back the 50pts on the marines and be worth it.
    Obviously this gets better with units that cost more, for example if you used it for 60 centurions, then you’d “gain” 10pts per wound by ap2 or better weapons and if this value exceeds what you determine to be the cost then it’s worth the points.

    Looking at that and the good armour saves already supported by marines, I find it unlikely that this ability would ever make its points back in a regular game. Since it’s from a expensive HQ that you probably wouldn’t have spent that many points on and then it comes from an added expense of the servitor. It’s not worth it cause enemy armies, espcially in 6th edtion don’t pack enough low ap weapons to make it worth the points(majority of weapons popular in 6th tend to be those with higher shot output than low ap value).

  10. Mr E September 20, 2013 7:39 am #

    Well I for one would get away from the specific already discussed examples at this points, and switch to say necron gauss weapons against tanks, tesla carbines, tesla in general, shuriken weapons, D-weapons, and mono filament weapons.

    all of the above weapons do something special on the 6+, gauss weapons do auto glances, tesla weapons do extra hits, and all the eldar weapons do automatic woulds at AP 1-2 with D-weapons causing instant death and auto penetrates as well on the 6+, my current eldar list maximum shooting potential for turn 1 and 2 shooting, assuming good deployment and cover for minimal casualties sustained is 111 shots in a turn, includes 5 D-cythes templates, 4 heavy wraith cannon shots, 40 DA shuricans, 42 warp spider monofilament shots, 6 shuriken pistols (dont judge they are just as nasty as the rest), 1 tl churiken on jetbike, and tl scatterlaser and shuriken cannon on the wave serpent, if there was a theme to this it would be that every singe shot poerformed by any unit and any gun is going to do awesome sauce on the 6+ roll, given that you have at least 3 turns with decent output of fire and without getting really bashed on I am going to assume that the overall potential shots from this army not including overwatch over a 5 turn game exceeds 300 shots almost no matter what, given current balistics on the eldar this will result in at least 200 hits (not including the D-cythes who average about 25-40 hits one time per game from one template burst) and that gives you the potential for ~33 of these 6+ works every time 1/6th of the time and this is only the wounds that are put out from the always works magical 6’s, generally speaking this army will either have the upper hand or be bogged down by turn 3, 1st turn and deployment matters a lot and the wave serpent must survive 2 rounds of incoming fire as the only tank on the field, to deliver its friendly payload of wraithgaurds.

  11. Mr E September 20, 2013 7:51 am #

    And when it comes to necron phalanx and mass gause and tesla, you have combined survivability with our put of fire for both anti amour and anti infantry, and en mass you will achive plenty of 6’s to hit with the tesla generating 2 additional free hits per, and when firing 40 gause shots into a tank there are pretty good odds of glancing it to death (28 for hits and 4~5 glances) so i think the question really is the cost of such “free boons” how much more do eldar and necrons pay per model to reflect these rules, much like IH chapter tactics vs chaplain Grimauldus, one you get as an inherent part of the army the other you should obviously stick him with 3 crusader squads and get the maximum servitors to provide 3 6” fnp 6+ bubbles and profit, still less points than 5 hammernators a character and a land raider. try it out in 10 games and go from there. Because wraithnights suck and all that..<<<< HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA sure

  12. jadedknight September 21, 2013 9:36 am #

    I think you brushed against a very important insight for analyzing any game of chance & skill in a tourney setting. The role of volatility and short term results.

    Winning 7 games in a row, even if you are the best player in the room is improbable. Let’s say you are a massive 70% favorite to win any given game against other competitive players with strong armies. That still yields you a paltry 8% chance of winning the tournament!

    Under these conditions it actually starts to make sense to play armies that can yield highly variable results, for instance an alpha strike army like SM White Scars composed off all bikers.

    Now I don’t think a 6++ overcomes the limitations of a SM assault army but I do believe this kind of thinking is along the right lines. However, you should most certainly set aside the law of large numbers and consider army lists that over the long haul might be inferior but have the potential to hit a hot streak over a half dozen games.

  13. Elsus September 22, 2013 7:07 pm #

    Why not have Azrael instead for his 4++?

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