Wednesday, January 16, 2013

3++ Heavy Weapon Review

3++ did a weapon review at the beginning of 6th Edition. Let's see how it is holding up now after some more time. Of course, we will only look at this from the Blood Angel perspective.

The article started out with autocannons:

The autocannon brought rate of fire and a good medium strength combination - this allowed for easier suppression against vehicles. ...Have things changed?

Yes and no. Autocannons are still an excellent choice, especially in they can be twin-linked like... Space Marine Dreadnoughts. They were suppression machines before, now they are hull point eating machines. They're going to struggle against the higher AVs but they still take a hull point off 33% of the time - not bad considering you get two shots per weapon. For comparison, a missile launcher only takes a hull point off 50% of the time - and has half the rate of fire. Chuck in the twin-linking options and they're not bad at dropping flyers either - takes a lot of them to do so but lots of shots and re-rolling all dice for 6's is about the best you can do without flyers of your own. Autocannons also get the most out of snap firing due to their increased rate of fire...

Unfortunately, there are only two places to get autocannons in the Blood Angels codex- the Predator tank and the Dreadnought entry. Also, you need to either make the Dreadnought autocannon arms from Aegis Defense Line parts, other re-purposed from other gaming systems or drop some hard earned cash on ForgeWorld. However, both of these options are efficient codex choices which is always nice.

The Predator is a fast vehicle which is a positive and a negative. Although it has a 13AV front, it is only 11 on the sides and 10 rear armour. Its best place could be just sitting in the board corners of your deployment zone. Since you have paid the points for the fast vehicle, you should probably try to enhance its use as best you can. If the mission is Big Guns Never Tire, your Predators are scoring. Keep in mind that you can move 12" in the movement phase and then still move Flat Out another 12" which might come in really handy at the end of the game when your opponent thinks you are safely out of range of that objective. In two turns, you could be 48" across the board if you needed it. The real benefit is being able to move and keep up your rate of fire. You can move 12" and fire two weapons. You have your autocannon shot and use one of your side sponsons at full ballistic skill. Choosing heavy bolters or lascannons is up to what you want to use your Predator for. Are you going to be going for infantry / heavy infantry or vehicle hunting? That will give you the answer to which option to choose. Keep in mind that there is a blind spot where the sponsons cannot shoot that is directly in front of the tank. Before dismissing the heavy bolters, remember that they could help out in knocking out light armour in addition to infantry.

Heavy bolters have seen improvement in being more capable of destroying vehicles thanks to hull points but they still aren't a heavy weapon of choice. Just the occasional times you have heavy bolters (i.e. Dakka Preds, hullmounts, Typhoons, etc.) they are more useful.

There are many places in the codex to choose heavy bolters: Servitors, Tactical Squad, Scout Squad, Razorback, Land Raider, Land Speeder, Baal Predator, Attack Bike, Dreadnought, Stormraven Gunship, Predator and Devastator Squad. Heavy bolters suffer from not having a low enough AP or a high enough strength. It's benefit is that it is cheap and often just comes standard with the unit. Lead vehicles expected to be focus fired on probably are not worth upgrading with the amount of points necessary to make it more effective. It will definitely be a matter of refining your list to decide where to invest your points if you want to make it more competitive and should be made to fit in with your overall strategy. You also have to decide if the enemy will accept your sacrificial or bait unit, but zooming that Razorback out in front will be a tempting target and would at least provide a cover save to vehicles hiding behind it. Your opponent now has poorer choices to decide upon.

Missile Launchers are still the jack of all trades with their small blast and high strength single shot but with the changes to the vehicle damage chart and missile launchers being a single shot, AP3 weapon, they are no longer as effective at destroying vehicles. They are still decent at suppression due to their higher strength and when push comes to shove, they can pack some wounds on infantry as well but their general utility as an anti-vehicle weapon has gone down. However, if in the future an FAQ comes to play allowing some (or all) missile launchers across armies having Flakk  missiles (a missile which has Skyfire), missiles will re-emphasis their jack of all trades card and still be a good middle ground choice which can do a little bit of everything.

Actually, they are more effective at destroying vehicles than ever before. Lascannons and plasma just had larger increases. There are hull points and the damage chart is not the all protecting force it was before either and decreased cover saves. Missile launchers are also fantastic because of their range. Shooting and neutralizing opponent shooting is so important now, so 48" is a huge consideration. More competitive lists just cannot afford to have many lascannons in it, so missile launchers are a nice compromise that let's you also deal death to hordes. Missile launchers are available with: Terminator Squads, Sternguard Veteran Squad, Tactical Squad, Scout Squad, Rhino, Razorback, Land Raider(+ Crusader and Redeemer), Land Speeder Squadron, Baal Predator, Dreadnought, Stormraven Gunship, Predator, Devastator Squad, Vindicator and Whirlwind. Some of these are hunter-killer missiles but have the same S8 AP3 stat line.

The lascannon is the next obvious choice - generally maligned in the past for being too expensive and not gaining anything of particular note against vehicles, Lascannons are now an improved option RELATIVELY speaking compared to other weapons thanks to AP2. This basically keeps the lascannon on par with what its damage capacity was before but with reduced cover saves it becomes slightly more effective. 

This also ignores the importance of having that 48" range. The most advanced strategists generally agree that this is mostly a shooting game at this point. You need to be able to neutralize the opponent's glass cannon. You can get lascannons on Sternguard, Tactical Squad, Razorback, Land Raider, Dreadnought, Stormraven Gunship, Predator and Devastator Squad.

Plasma cannons like-wise got a two-fold buff, they are better at dropping vehicles than before (blasts always count as full strength) and taking off hull points whilst the AP2 blast has to contend with lower cover in general. 

Plasma cannons (and anything scattering with the small blast marker) are usually an all or nothing situation. Everything can go wrong with that Gets Hot! roll. Then you have to roll for scatter. When things go right, they can be devastating though. You can get Plasma Cannons on Servitors, Sternguard, Tactical Squad, Dreadnought, Stormraven Gunship and Devastator Squad.

Multi-meltas are still the star of the show when it comes to taking down tanks and have really lost nothing in their application - when on vehicles or relentless platforms (i.e. Attack Bikes, Speeders, etc.). Multi-meltas on infantry models are far less an appetising proposal and really only fit in certain units (i.e. MM Rhino Bunkers) and snap fire helps them be a little more useful on the turns they need to move. Still a fantastic weapon on other platforms though.

That says it all about Multi-Meltas above. You can get them with Servitors, Sternguard Veteran Squad, Tactical Squad, Land Raider (+ Crusader and Redeemer), Land Speeder, Attack Bike, Dreadnought, Stormraven Gunship and Devastator Squad. 

I should also throw in the Heavy Flamer

S5 AP4 and it is an assault weapon! It might come in handy some time. It is not going to be terribly effective against marines, but it should be good fun. You can get it on the Furioso Dreadnought, Terminator Squad, Sternguard Veteran Squad, Death Company Dreadnought, Razorback, Land Speeder, Baal Predator and Dreadnought. If you really like it, you will probably love the Flamestorm Cannon.


Flamestorm Cannons are only on vehicles and are S6 AP3 that will create some carnage on the battlefield. It would be nice if Dreadnoughts could take them as a primary weapon too. You can find them only on the Land Raider Reedemer and Baal Predator, unfortunately.

The three major heavy weapons (autocannon, missile launcher, lascannon) are all still decent choices though I'd say if you had the option for an autocannon, I'd be leaning to them every day of the week over missile launchers. Unless missile launchers do get that skyfire option for an additional cost, well then each of those three heavy weapons does something a little better than the other but neither one is completely over-shadowing the other when compared to their points cost and options where they can be taken.

Why not try out some of the other options and see what works best for you rather than just use Autocannons because they are perhaps the best choice for general all around use. Also, you need to consider the twin-linked opportunities that are presented in various options. Twin-linked weapons are so valuable because of their reliability. If you can't get the weapon you want twin-linked on a certain weapons platform, consider one of the less usual options to add variety to your list and even surprise your heretical opponent.


  1. While I tend to agree with 3++ I think the RB's Las/Plas is the best platform BA have. Cheap and effective.
    Autocannons are good but not as abundant in a BA army as we would like. Preds are quite expensive, more so when adding Lascannon Sponsons, and the SR is a much better Heavy Choice nowadays. Dreads can be usefule but don't quite accomodate to the BA strategy of fast attack/in-your-face approach.
    I surely would like to see flak missiles in Devs now, so we can get some cheap heavy support for our jumpers.

  2. Please note that HK missles don't have the small blast firing mode that regular missile launchers do... I made that mistake quite a few times. Just so you know!

  3. Timothy, I'll make it explicit in the post.