Warmachine and Hordes - Do I Buy or Boost?

One of the things that inevitably comes up during a game of Warmachine is a critical moment where a heavy goes into another heavy and maybe the attacking heavy isn’t buffed up or the defending heavy has a defensive upkeep and suddenly there’s a moment of staring each other where the question becomes - Should I boost this damage roll? Should I buy more attacks?

The rule of thumb that Line of Sight guys tend to follow is pretty easy - if you are dice off four or more (example: PS 16 vs. ARM 20), it is more efficient to boost damage rolls than to buy attacks. We are presuming here that hitting is pretty easy and that this is not a game ending engagement (more on that in a sec).

Let me run through the (simple) math real quick on why this -4 point is critical.

The average on two dice is 7, and the average on 3 dice is 10.5, so either 10 or 11 in real life terms.

Let’s assume we get one initial and three focus/fury/essence to buy or boost with and that we are more or less auto hitting.

Dice -3, boosting

Initial Attack, Boosted: 7 or 8 damage
Bought and Boosted: 7 or 8 damage
Total Damage: 14 - 16 damage

Dice - 3, no boosting

Initial Attack: 4 damage
Each Bought: 4 damage (x3)
Total Damage: 16 damage

As you can see, in this dice - 3 scenario, boosting your attacks tends to lead to a range of damages that are either below or at the same averages as buying attacks and not boosting. This gets even more skewed towards the favor of buying if you are dice - 2 or - 1.

Dice -2, boosting

Initial Attack, boosted: 8 or 9 damage
Bought and Boosted: 8 or 9 damage
Total Damage 16 - 18 damage

Dice -2, no boosting

Initial Attack: 5 damage
Each Bought: 5 damage (x3)
Total Damage: 20 damage

In this case, boosting actually makes your math much worse, and this skews even farther towards the no boosting side as you get closer to even dice and dice plus damage.

Let us have a look at dice - 4 and dice - 5.

Dice - 4, boosting

Initial Attack, boosted: 6 or 7 damage
Bought and Boosted: 6 or 7 damage
Total Damage: 12 - 14 damage

Dice -5, boosting

Initial Attack, boosted: 5 or 6 damage
Bought and Boosted: 5 or 6 damage
Total Damage: 10 - 12 damage

Dice -4, no boosting

Initial Attack: 3 damage
Each Bought: 3 damage (x3)
Total Damage: 12 damage

Dice -5, no boosting

Initial Attack: 2 damage
Each Bought: 2 damage (x3)
Total Damage: 8 damage

As we can see, at dice - 4 boosting is even or better, and at dice - 5, boosting is straight up better.

Caveat: this is all assuming that you are hitting pretty trivially (4s to hit etc.) and that you do not need to win the game with this kill, in which case…some times you just have to be lucky ;)

Conclusion:

If you’ve ever wondered if you should buy or boost, the cut off is dice - 4 when you should start boosting damage rolls. Anything worse than dice off 4, definitely boost damage and anything better than dice off 4, buy extra attacks.

Thanks for reading!