I’m a big believer that the best competitive strategies are the ones that don’t involve dice. Any wargamer will tell you that dice can fail you. However, there are going to be times where you have to make a play and you have to roll dice. In Shatterpoint, I find the pace usually accelerates towards the late game. In struggle 1 you can take your time and chip away at units but by struggle 3 things have a tendency to get hectic. When things are moving fast, you might just have to one-shot something. By struggle 3 it’s quite possible that a wounded supporting unit wounded activates, claims a point, and is sitting at full health. As such, today I wanted to take a deep dive into which primaries are the best at taking out supports with one hit.
This is also a great way to showcase the dice simulator I’ve developed for Shatterpoint. I find the nature of expertise in this game make it very tough to math out dice probabilities beyond a rough approximation. Before we get into the meat of the article, so legal disclaimers:
Percentages shown in this article seem to be accurate to approximately +/- 1%. Percentages are rounded to the nearest whole number so it may sometimes show 0% even that scenario is technically possible. If a probability would round to 100% I changed it to 99% because nothing in life is certain. Please don’t @ me saying “but my dice don’t roll like that, I’m cursed”. Constantly blaming dice is an easy excuse and not a path to improvement. Also, while most of these numbers can be taken from the simulator on the site, I had to manually add some code to account for characters with damage in their expertise charts. You can guesstimate it pretty well with the public simulator, but since I am posting numbers I want to be as precise as possible.
Also the dice simulator doesn’t work great on mobile yet and I’m sorry about that. I know Excel, not Python.
For the purposes of this study, I chose a handful of primaries with high damage output. Analysis is done with their most damaging stance: Maul – Dark Rage, Dooku – Form II Makashi, Obi-Wan – Form IV Ataru, Grievous – Quad Arm Attack, Anakin – Form V Djem So, and Darth Vader – Dark Rage. For the supports on the defending side, I ended up choosing all 6 supports from wave 1. All attacks are melee attacks.
Before any funny business, lets take a look at probabilities before any fancy abilities are taken into account.
Basic attacks with the primary’s most damage-heavy stance
Our vanilla scenario really showcases the value of raw health. With 10 stamina, MagnaGuards are very difficult to one-shot. Obi-Wan literally cannot do enough damage to one-shot them, maxing out at 9. Vader and Maul can both technically one-shot magnas, but the chances are so slim they round down to zero. Even with 3 defense dice and terrible expertise, B1 battle droids are still very difficult for most primaries to one-shot due to their 9 stamina. On the other end of the spectrum, clones and Clan Kryze have much better defensive expertise compared to B1s, but only 7 health. The former are much more one-shotable than B1s. One day I may do a true deep dive into defensive abilities, but for now I’m feeling like raw health is better than lower health and good expertise.
The other early conclusion is that Grievous and Anakin are offensive beasts. We’ll put that in our back pocket as we continue along.
Since we’re assuming a situation where you need to one-shot a unit, you’re probably pulling out all the stops. As such, we should add in some key abilities from the various primaries. For Maul, I am assuming he is getting one extra die from Sustained by Rage and the enemy is exposed via There is No Place to Run. Maul can get a lot more attack dice, but I’ve stuck with one because that’s what you can guarantee (taking damage instead of using force for Force Speed and No Place to Run gives you three damage for one extra die). Obi-Wan is assumed to have used Hello There! for three extra attack dice. Anakin is assumed to be supported by Coordinated Fire: Strain from the 501st or Coordinated Fire: Damage from clone commandos, either has the same effect for our purposes. Of course, Anakin has access to an extra attack, but we won’t consider that in this analysis. For Vader I’m assuming he’s dealing two extra damage from Vader’s Fury. I waffled on whether to assume he’s taking 2 damage to roll 3 extra dice with Your Hatred Makes You Powerful, so in the end I made two lines for Vader. The first assumes he doesn’t take damage, the second (marked with a red damage icon) assumes he does. I haven’t assumed any extra abilities for Grievous, though it’s likely he’ll be able to use Appetite for Destruction for a follow-up attack from a support. I have not considered any extra abilities for Count Dooku.
Adding in offensive abilities – this is the “base case”
Now that we’re considering extra abilities, Obi-Wan and non-damaged Vader have climbed into the Grievous/Anakin tier. If Vader self-damages for 3 extra dice he’s in a league of his own. Magnas, B1s, and Super Commandos are still pretty tough to one-shot unless your name is, or once was, Anakin Skywalker.
We also see Dooku and Maul lagging behind a bit in the one-shot category. I’ll touch more on this later as it’s a trend we’ll see more in the next scenarios.
Going forward, I will refer to the above scenario as the “base case” and compare other scenarios to it.
Offensively, the most obvious and accessible modifier is the focus action for one additional die. If you can afford the action, how much does a focus really help?
Focus action on the primary
On average, a focus seems to increase one-shot odds by about 10% for the characters presented. That’s not nothing, especially in a do-or-die situation. The focus tends to have a larger effect for characters that were lagging behind like Maul or Dooku. Self-damage Vader barely benefits from a focus in most situations since he’s already swimming in dice.
The other time that focus has a large effect is against the tough-to-one-shot characters on the left side of the table. If I need to one-shot these characters I’ll be more likely to figure out a way to get a focus action, such as spending a force to move then focus-attack instead of move-attack for my two actions.
We’ve looked at the effects of a minor offensive buff, so now let’s flip it around and look at defensive buffs. Magnas don’t really have a defensive buff at the moment, so they have been excluded from this scenario. B1s and the Mandos were assumed to have Protection, the former from I Hate This Job and the latter from Bo-Katan’s Some of Us Serve a Higher Purpose ability. The clone troopers were assumed to have an extra defense die thanks to a hunker token and Obi-Wan’s Knowledge and Defense ability.
Defensive buffs on the supports
I’ve colour coded the +/- chart such that green indicates a more positive outcome for the defender. Note that Obi-Wan cannot deal 10 damage to B1s to get past 9 stamina plus Protection, so that probability drops down to zero. However, Obi-Wan’s attack tree has some shoves in it, so in reality it’s quite possible he’d be able to shove the B1s off before damage is applied.
My big takeaway here is that Protection is generally more effective at preventing a one-shot than the extra hunker token. The clones are still getting KO’d about ¾ of the time or more by the big hitters. This makes sense because earlier we were seeing that more health was good, and Protection is effectively one more health if you’re considering a single attack.
Once again, self-damage Vader proves he’s a beast because he is barely affected by extra defensive tech.
Defender Has Two Damage
Finally, we’ll veer slightly off the pure one-shot probabilities. Let’s assume now that the defender already has two damage before the attack. I chose two damage because it’s a relatively small number and because lots of game effects give two damage (Riposte, Deflect, No Mercy, etc.). It’s very possible that a unit that just activated could have two damage by the end of their activation due to one of these effects.
Supports start with two damage
That’s a lot of very big numbers. Magnas continue to be beasts that are hard wound. Turns out a lot of stamina and a good defensive expertise make you tanky. Even so, the extra damage helps a lot vs. the magnas, often tripling(ish) the chance they get one-hit by these primaries.
Consider this example: by the late game you may have to spend a force to use Deflect, which doesn’t feel great. However, looking at the above data, that two damage could be critical to keeping pace as things speed up. After doing this analysis I know I’ll be more likely to cough up that cost if I know quickly wounding the attacker will be needed. Similarly, this contributes to my ever-growing appreciation for the Super Commandos’ No Mercy ability, which deals two damage when an enemy dashes or advances out of engagement with the unit. It will never cost force and in the late game it may be unavoidable in order to get units to contest objectives.
To conclude, I’ll touch briefly on some thoughts I’ve had regarding all the primaries studied.
For Maul, this is further evidence for me that he fills a finesse role rather than a big damage role. Of course, this analysis only considered one extra die. If you load him up with even more damage then he can become a killing machine, but that brings it’s own risks. This is in no way a knock on Maul, I think he’s a great character. I mentioned at the top that diceless abilities are often the best and Maul has a great one with No Place to Run. Just know what you’re getting and what the cost is for reliable one-shots.
I honestly expected more from Dooku. He still has a very versatile tree and great abilities to juice the army around him, but one-shotting things is not his strength, relatively speaking. He’ll need to use those other abilities to soften enemies up if he wants to reliably finish them off.
I love Obi-Wan, and he proved again here that he is a top-class damage dealer when you pay for his Hello There! ability. Not only can he one-shot with the best (except against magnas) but he also dishes out shoves and conditions while he’s at it. Just make sure you have force to spend for Hello There! on every Obi-Wan activation. A radical insight, I know.
Grievous is a top-class murder machine, as you would except. That’s even before factoring in Appetite for Destruction giving out extra attacks to supporting characters (for free). I don’t have much more to say. Grievous is there to kill and he does it well.
Anakin is really good at killing supports, even with just one attack. Sadly, This is Where the Fun Begins only gives bonuses for Anakin wounding primaries and secondaries. Those wounds can be game changing for sure, but if you really need someone to one-shot a support, don’t forget that Anakin is up to the task.
Vader is just in a league of his own. Not only does he have a built in way to throw three extra dice, but anyone he’s paired with can also do the same. Any other primary on this list becomes much scarier when teamed up with the Dark Lord of the Sith. However, we also saw that even just two damage can make units much more vulnerable. Keep that in consideration when self-wounding Vader and his friends. Even without the self-wounding, Vader is very reliable with just Vader’s Fury backing him up.
That was a lot of numbers, but hopefully it led to some good insights. Let me know if you’d like a similar article in the future diving into defensive comparisons, and give the dice simulator a try for yourself!