But hitting on 4s is mediocre, it makes 3s dead rolls when you take their Heirs rerolls into account, and it ensures you’ll never benefit from Vengeance for Sanguinius. There are pros and cons; fists are only mathematically better against T5 and above. T4 they’re the same, T3 fists are worse.
I was curious to see how this played out and put together an Excel sheet looking at variations:
There is a fair amount of information in here, but I'll try to summarise what I've done:
- First table shows the damage caused per hit for the Encarmine sword ("E.S.") and the powerfist ("P.F.")
- Second table uses that data and combines it with the WS to calculate the damage caused per attack
- Third table looks at rerolling To Hit, assuming full Heirs of Azkaellon rerolls and not rerolling 3s for powerfists
- Fourth table looks at rerolling 1s To Wound
- Fifth table looks at rerolling hits and wounds
- The "Optimal weapon" row shows which weapon is most useful against which toughness
- The final four rows show the difference in damage per attack for each weapon, given various reroll combination. The cells are coloured red, orange and green for differences which are less than 0.05, between 0.05 and 0.1 and greater than 0.1, in order to see which variations created the biggest difference in damage output
So, as previously mentioned, Encarmine swords are better against T3 and T4 targets, but the difference in terms of damage-per-attack against T4 is less than 0.05. Powerfists then take the lead, showing particularly well against T8, before the difference between the two drops from marginal to negligible against T9.
Given the opportunity to reroll either hits or wounds, rerolling hits is by far the best choice and it particularly benefits the powerfist. The difference in damage-per-attack against T5, T6 and T7 shifts from marginal to good. Unsurprisingly, rerolling both hits and wounds is the best choice where possible.
In terms of real difference, however, the two weapons are very close to each other. There's only one case where either weapon causes more than 0.2 additional damage per attach than the other, which is Encarmine swords rerolling hits and wounds against T3. In real terms, that would mean a unit of ten Sanguinary Guard with Encarmine swords would statistically cause 4 more wounds than the same unit equipped with powerfists.
It actually seems as though powerfists are the way to go. The swords actually only provide a noticeably better option against targets which are T3, which are generally going to be a waste of their potential. The two weapons are essentially the same against T4 and the powerfists really shine against anything tougher, particularly with rerolls to hit from Heirs of Azkaellon. Given that I would be looking at other units for chaff clearance, I think that all of my Sanguinary Guard will be getting themselves some shiny golden powerfists in the very near future!
It's also confirming that there's more value in using a warlord for Heirs of Azkaellon than it would be to use, say, a Sanguinary Ancient to reroll wounds.
Looks to me like the Sanguinor plus powerfist-equipped Sanguinary Guard are the best choice, though I haven't looked at figures where a Sanguinary Priest was involved. Lifting the Encarmine sword to S5 would actually have a pretty significant impact on the figures. If there's interest, I can change the numbers around and show the results.