Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Special Weapon Review from 3++

3++ did a special 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.

Special weapons were a little less varried than heavies in 5th edition. Meltaguns was generally the first and last option people reached for - it was the best way to drop tanks and dirt cheap.

Things haven't really changed with the meltagun itself. It's still the most potent anti-tank vehicle when everything works in it's favor; it still bypasses most armor values at close range and has a 50% chance to destroy a vehicle when it penetrates and it's still dirt cheap. Chuck in a general reduction in cover (specifically, man-made cover like smoke launchers) and meltaguns are arugably better than they were. Unfortunately though, the most common platform for them, infantry inside transports, have had their threat ranges reduced by ~3" thanks to the new disembarkation rules. This threat range loss is of course gained only at the extreme and often would put such infantry in a place to get blasted to bits next turn (aka over-extension) but this option is now hindered just that bit more. Furthermore, the 3" lost still leaves the current infantry squad exposed as they must disembark and then move 6" - you can no longer move the transport 12" and disembark behind it to gain some protection. Expect to see these mostly on mobile units (i.e. jump infantry, bikes, etc.) though taking them in transports isn't bad, it's just not as flexible as in the previous edition. 
Infernous pistols, also for Blood Angels, are like the meltagun but hit more by the threat range reduction. Again, expect to see them mostly on Jumper units.

The biggest drive is need. The need for meltaguns has significantly decreased. You need to deal with a wide variety of targets now (tough infantry, Helldrakes, flyers, blobs) and vehicles are now in trouble when you get to grenade them. Don't forget your meltabombs and flamers.

The big change of 6th edition is of course the potential for the plasma gun to become much more popular. With a reduction in cover and changes to rapid fire weapons, the low AP of the plasma gun can come into play more often (forcing multiple 5+ cover saves is a lot better than multiple 4+ cover saves) whilst the rapid fire changes allow the plasma gun to have an effective 30" threat range. The addition of hull points to vehicles also make plasma volleys a scarier proposition - consider them a more power autocannon volley at short range. They can take off hull points of lower AVs but thanks to their AP2, they are also a little bit better at actually causing Explodes! results on any penetration they do generate. They are expensive though, but their increased rate of fire makes them effective at both anti-vehicle and anti-infantry duty (though obviously they are inefficient against horde like units). For units replacing their meltaguns with something else, the plasma gun is generally what people will be reaching for. 
The plasma pistol has everyone jumping up and down currently as well but really, it's the same cost as most plasma guns yet only gets one shot and only at 12". Yes you can take two with gunslinger to effectively have an old rapid-firing plasma gun but it's +30 points. It can certainly be useful as it gets you more raw firepower in a unit already maxed out but it's not exactly efficient.

Losing the ability to assault after firing that plasma gun shouldn't be underestimated either for Blood Angels players. Good work blowing up that transport- you can't assault the contents now though and you are left out in the wind for your opponents next turn of devastating shooting. Don't forget that those sweet heavy flamers are also assault weapons too.

The flamer hasn't changed much - it's always been a bit of a niche weapon on infantry. Like the meltagun it really suffers from the new disembarkation rules and the general weakness of tanks. Throwing a tank forward for some tank shock "I get to move your models" fun is riskier than it used to be and not always worth doing to drop some templates on individuals. That being said, a couple of them in a squad can be killers on Overwatch duty against lightly armed units. Any unit of Orks or Termagants or Guardsmen, etc. isn't going to want to charge (or multi-charge) a squad with a couple flamers in their midst. They're still generally dirt cheap and having a couple in your army for clearing infantry or charge defenses isn't a bad thing but they aren't going to be popping up everywhere. 
 Hand-flamers for Blood Angels though will likely see a bit more use - like flamers they are a niche role but the free Overwatch hits is a pretty decent buy.

I just don't see the utility in taking a hand flamer yet from the available choices in the BA codex. The regular flamer is not bad, but it is not that great either at S4 AP5. You don't hit that sweet spot until the Heavy Flamer at S5 AP4 or the Flamestorm Cannon at S6 AP3 for extra crisp traitors. Use what the codex options give you rather than forcing them into your list for improved effectiveness. Remember, you need to be close enough to use them, which you should think about with the improvement to rapid fire and especially plasma guns.

Special weapons are where we are more likely to see a turnaround. Meltaguns are still good but the gap between melta and plasma has closed dramatically and in an edition where AP2 and number of shots matter, the plasma gun is ticking both of those boxes. Expect to see more but not as much as we saw in the LasPlas days of 4th edition.

This last sentence is backwards and leads in the wrong direction. It's not what will you see, it is what will you bring? You are trying to build a balanced list, not trying to list tailor. Your special weapons should be basically something you fill in at the end. Your list should already have long range firepower, counter-assault, mobility, anti-tank, anti-infantry already checked off your list mostly because relying upon troops like assault squads or tac squads to do the heavy lifting is asking too much of them. Every opponent is geared toward killing marines, so they just don't have the staying power that they should.


  1. Playing Space Wolves and Codex Marines (never did get around to building my DoA army before 6th hit, then I just gave up on that idea...) I've never really felt the need to make the jump to Plasma. The list I've been having some success with involves 4 Drop Podding Grey Hunter (two squads with double flamers and two with double melta) squads and one Sternguard vet squad with combi-meltas (also with Pod), plus the obligatory Long Fangs and Rune Priests.

    I haven't really felt the need for Plasma, but then again, I seem to only ever play against Imperial Guard blobbers with Defense Lines recently...

  2. Melta is still the weapon of choice for BA ASM. No plasma whatsoever. Perhaps for foot ASM in RB a plasma gun can be an option. For BA I tend to give plasma to the Honour Guard and Sternguard Vets, both good shooting units.
    I don´t consider flamers a good option for ASM, you'll root out any unit taking cover, in the assault. And packing them only for those D3 hits in overwatch seems wasting a good AP1 (instant death) hit every turn.