Last time we spoke, I mentioned the superiority of ranged weaponry over melee combat. Well, now its time to investigate the flip side of that. Close Combat wins games. Going back over some of the stuff from last time if you remember that even the worst WS can still hit the best WS on a 5+. So that means even your lowly zombie with a WS 2 can potentially hit even that super evolved Possessed model.
Therein lines the rub, though. Everyone can potentially hit everyone else with equal ease. So what makes the difference? Well, mainly its choosing the right tool for the right job. And when picking the right tool, there are a few things to consider. Those are the Weapon Skill, Strength, Initiative, and lets not kid ourselves, the cost. These are really the things that make a difference.
Before we get into those, and how they effect close combat I want to take a moment to mention something. This is something that is completely overlooked by most wargamers, and most people that play any of GW's games. The base line model in Mordheim is the standard human. Most stats are 3, except for wounds and leadership. In 40K the baseline is the tactical marine, and everything is scaled up or down from that. Mordheim, everything is scaled from a base of 3. That makes a huge difference. It means that for almost all actions you have a 50/50 chance of succeeding. That's our center point.
With three being our center point that's where the WS, Strength, and Initiative come into play. Anything that is under three is low, anything over three is high. Three is the magic number, and it doesn't make a difference. With a three in any score, you concentrate on the other stats instead of the one that is a three, and if all of them are three, then just do what you like. There are things that you need to consider with each other. I could make a whole spread sheet of different combinations, but that would take awhile, so I am going to highlight each one.
Low WS: These guys are your filler. They only have a 33% chance of hitting, so in most cases you want to avoid things that don't improve your chances of causing a wound, because you might not get a chance later.
High WS: These are the mainstay of your close combat troops. These are the guys that you want to give weapons with special abilities to. The axe, club, are excellent in these hands. Especially the club, which can help get a stunned result.
Low Strength: With a low strength you almost have to take some sort of strength increasing weapon, fortuitously there are very few things that have a strength lower then three.
High Strength: While it is tempting to give these guys weapons that increase thier strength to really high amounts, it isn't worth it. Save yourself some money, and go with weapons like halberds and morning stars. These increase your strength by one, and a five strength wounds the most common toughness on a 2+, with an armor modifier of -2 as well.
Low Initiative: There's two ways around this. You can take a spear which always hits first (except against other spears, or special skills), however that only effects the first round. The other thing to do is to take a double handed weapon, since you will be hitting last anyway, you might as well make that hit a big hit.
High Initiative: These guys are gods in Mordheim. The only thing you want to avoid totally is the double handed weapon. Speed is their strength, so don't turn it into a weakness.
So those are the main things to keep in mind, because they effect almost every hit. However, there are a few things lesser things that you want to keep in mind as well. They effect each combat, but are of lesser importance. Those are handedness, cost, and something else to be determined.
Handedness: This seems kind of obvious, but it can make or break a model. A single handed weapon can allow you take a shield, buckler, or a second single handed weapon for a bonus attack. The two handed weapons generally have a better ability or a strength increase, but they don't allow you to use a second weapon, shield, or buckler in close combat. You have to weigh the benefits of two handedness special abilities against the defense or extra attack a one handed weapon can give you.
Cost: Again, seemingly obvious, but it makes a big difference, especially at different points in the game. A low cost weapon, like a club/hammer/mace or axe are great for the beginning when you want to put boots on the ground or you are playing a horde warband, but give very few extra abilities. The mid point weapons are often what I like to call the game makers. Mid point weapons, like the sword, halbred, or spear have almost no drawbacks and a pretty good ability. High cost weapons like flails, morningstars, and double handed weapons have huge advantages, but also have huge drawbacks.
These are the things that make a difference in Mordheim, WS, Strength, Iniative, Handedness, and cost. There is a lot more to think about when equipping your models with close combat weapons then with ranged weapons, but I hope I gave you a bit more food for thought with these.