Do you like spam spam and razorspam, melta spam spam and melta, spam chimera spam chimera and melta vets, long fang spam and spam, spam spam and psyfleman, or spam venom spam raider spam ravager spam. Personally I only like certain spam flavours, the others are a bit boring but that's not why you shouldn't take them. No no! There are other reasons for that …..........
Ok so first things first (bols commentors that's how you first btw), kudos where it's due and if you are interested here is where I got the idea for this article – I hope the differences are obvious. Onward ho!
Lets define spam. Spam is the repetition of a selection in an army lists. It is most immediately recognised to repetition of units or vehicles within an army list. Razorspam, venomspam etc. But lets take a step down. Lets look at spam within units.
You can spam weapons choices within units e.g. dark lance within a dark eldar warrior unit – 2 dark lances. Now it takes resources (movement phases, deployment space, shooting phases you can only choose one target, transports, line of site) to get your dark lance into a situation where you can use it. However if the other weapon was lets say a splinter cannon then the splinter cannon would be pointless to shoot at a tank and hence wasted of points for any turn in which that unit shoots at a tank. It is in efficient. However since you are shooting at a tank if your second weapon is a lance your are more likely to penetrate with your big guns so it is more reliable. However there is a thing called diminishing returns. This means you will receive less bang for each subsequent buck you spend.
Take blaster trueborn, you can have up to 4 blasters and each blaster costs the same amount.
|unit probability for an av12 wreck||increase in probability by the addition of this blaster|
|1st blaster|| |
|2nd blaster|| |
|3rd blaster|| |
|4th blaster|| |
In the chart above we can see that the probability for the unit to destroy the vehicle increases with each blaster. However the degree to which it increase (the right hand column) is getting smaller with each blaster. So we see the unit become more reliable with each blaster but by a smaller amount each time. This is called diminishing returns. The reason the benefit diminishes is because sometimes the first blaster would have done the trick and you get nothing extra for wrecking a tank twice in one salvo, hence less increased benefit.
We largely ignore diminishing returns in units because other resources both tangible ( such as unit base costs) and intangible (lines of sight) mean that is more efficient to have one spammed unit than multiple single blaster units. Spamming weapons within a unit is a flavour of spam I like.
Now lets look at spamming units instead of weapons. I don't like this and I don't think it is an efficient choice a lot of the time. The reason is partly due to those intangible resources we mentioned above. For instance long fangs are an outstanding choice for a space wolf army. They are not mobile though (logan's tricks aside) and are best with a superior line of sight. However there is generally a limit of raised cover with an overview of the board. The first unit will get the premier deployment spot and the second will then get the next best (but sub par) deployment spot. This is an intangible factor and means it is outside of maths hammering but it is a simple logic to work out that if the unit is not in the premier deployment spot its return will be diminished in comparison to the first unit. Though they may be identical and deliver optimised return when looking at how a list performs on a spreadsheet (ie mathhammer).
If we choose a different unit, for instance a landspeeder typhoon – we have similar firepower that doesn't compete for the same intangible resources but brings other advantages and tactics to be played. This tactical flexibility is something I'll cover later. In summary, we see that spamming weapons is often an efficient use of intangible resources, but with units this often (not always) places a high demand on intangible resources.
In part two I'll be looking at....actually you'll have to tune in to see.