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I'm trying to calculate what my odds are as a level 20 Champion to score at least one critical hit on my turn, and how many I can expect.

I make four attacks per attack action I take, and can Action Surge for another four, bringing my total to 8. I score a critical hit on a roll of 18-20 on the d20, and if I get even one, my Great Weapon Master feat lets me make a fifth (or in this case ninth) attack.

I'd also be curious to know what my odds are if I'm rolling with advantage.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to RPG.SE! Take the tour if you haven't already and see the help center or ask us here in the comments (use @ to ping someone) if you need more guidance. Good Luck and Happy Gaming! \$\endgroup\$ – Someone_Evil Feb 26 at 12:03
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Probability of at least one crit

The Great Weapon Master feat allows making an extra attack when scoring a critical or reducing a creature to zero hit points. I'll not cover the latter case since its probability is very situational, and the former has no relevance here since the extra attack only happens if one already scored a critical hit. The easy way to approach this question is to consider the inverse case: what is the probability that you score no critical hits on eight attacks?

Each attack scores a critical hit on a 18, 19 or 20, so the probability of not critting on a given attack is \$\frac{17}{20}\$. The probability of eight attacks with no critical hits is therefore \$(\frac{17}{20})^8\$, roughly \$0.27\$. This means you score at least one critical hit with a probability of \$1- (\frac{17}{20})^8\$, or roughly \$0.73\$.

With advantage

With advantage the probability of each individual blow critting is \$2 \times \frac{3}{20} - (\frac{3}{20})^2 = \frac{120}{400} - \frac{9}{400}\ = \frac{111}{400} ≃ 0.28\$. Therefore, the probability of at least one critical hit on eight attacks with advantage is, using the same reasoning as above, \$1 - (\frac{289}{400})^8 ≃ 0.93\$.

Expected number of criticals

Expected values are generally quite easy to work with, because they work in a linear fashion: the expected critical hits per a single attack is \$\frac{3}{20}\$, so the expected critical hits per eight attacks is \$\frac{3}{20} \times 8 = \frac{24}{20}\$. You will on average score \$1.2\$ criticals per round assuming you make all eight attacks, but this is before we factor in the extra attack from Great Weapon Master.

The extra attack given by the Great Weapon Master triggers with the probability \$1- (\frac{17}{20})^8\$ we calculated earlier. Since it uses one's bonus action, it will trigger only once per turn at most. When it triggers, it adds an expected \$\frac{3}{20}\$ critical to the total number of crits per turn. Taking into account the probability of triggering, the expected number of critical hits added is \$(1- (\frac{17}{20})^8) \times \frac{3}{20} ≃ 0.11\$. Therefore the final expected number of crits per round where one makes all eight attacks is roughly \$1.31\$.

With advantage

Each attack has a probability of \$\frac{111}{400}\$, so eight attacks yields an expected value of \$\frac{111}{400} \times 8 = 2.22\$ critical hits before accounting for the GWM extra attack. Accounting the extra attack, we add \$(1 - (\frac{289}{400})^8) \times \frac{111}{400} ≃ 0.26\$ giving us a total of 2.48 criticals expected per round.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ @Tiggerous Yeah, I didn't think it was reasonable to ask about that method for triggering the BA attack - this was more than enough by itself. This answer was definitely what I needed. \$\endgroup\$ – Joshua Hopkins Feb 26 at 9:23
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This anydice program will tell you how many critical hits you can expect to score in various situations. Since in this particular case we're only trying to work out the odds of scoring critical hits at all (not how much damage we're dealing or anything much more variable like that) the program is quite simple.

The expression 1d20>=18 gives us the likelihood of rolling an 18 or better on a d20 (0.15). The expression 1@2d20>=18 accounts for the situation with advantage, as it selects the first (highest) die from the 2d20 pool and compares that to the target of 18 (~0.28). To simulate multiple attacks, we can then use these expressions as a die themselves - so 8d(1d20>=18) gives us the distribution that results from doing that 8 times.

The final feature is to add in the effect of GWM's bonus attack on a critical, which I've done with this function:

function: gwf IN:n DIE:d {
  if IN > 0 { result: IN + DIE }
  result: IN
}

This function is used by feeding in the number of criticals you already have and the expression describing your odds of scoring a crit on a given attack. If you already have any crits, it then possibly adds another one.

Therefore the final output line:

output [gwf 8d(1@2d20>=18) 1@2d20>=18] named "8 attacks advantage GWM Champion 20 criticals"

... tells us how many criticals we can expect to score if making 8 attacks in a round with advantage and Great Weapon Master in effect. This lucky fighter can expect to be making ~2.48 critical hits per round, and would be quite unlucky to score no crits at a mere ~7.43% chance. Without advantage, the fighter expects ~1.31 crits, with a 27.25% chance of scoring no criticals at all.

Prior output lines are included in the linked program to help demonstrate how the odds change as you introduce various mechanics like advantage, GWM and action surging.

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