8th Edition 40k – Combat Weapons

Okay. Time for some information on the hacky, sawy, breaky, biting, poking, fis…nope not going to say that. Anyway, melee weapons! We already saw the Force Weapon on Rubric Marines and very unshockingly, the power weapons of similar natures are the same but with only a single damage rather than D3 of the force weapons.

What I like about this is the changes in weapon are very linear. Gain a strength, lose an AP. Lose a strength, gain an AP. Want something that’s going to put more wounds out and your Maul / Staff is the right option. Want something that’s going to reduce the save of a Marine to a t-shirt – take a sword man. The mathammering will ultimately tell us what’s the best all-round (I’m going to guess the Axe) but the fact they are all the same price gives total flexibility to you the player.

The chainsword getting an extra attack is odd – I wonder if there will be a two weapon bonus combat attack anymore. They have continued to indicate combat is much more powerful so I wouldn’t be surprised to see it nonetheless. The Powerfist loses its one big drawback (striking last) and its replaced with a to hit modifier. Great change IMO and keeps with the streamlining process. Unsurprisingly it still doubles the strength of the user, AP-3 and D3 damage so can punch through some pretty durable things. Charging Terminators against vehicles are going to be frolicking in the death destruction. Oh major segue but if vehicles are like normal models re statlines – will they just be picked up and removed like normal models or will there be some sort of wreck / damage to occupants?

Force Weapons are confirmed still for Grey Knights so lots of D3 damage rolls there…

The Reaper Chainsword (previously a D weapon) does a straight six damage. If this is how they treat D weapons, fantastic. The damage maximum is the same as many stronger weapons it’s just consistently at that level. Furthermore, we learn Chaos Lords are 12 wounds (the link also goes to a Terminator Lord)! HOW IS GULLIMAN LESS WOUNDS??? Edit: As has been pointed out, sliced in half is more likely to mean killing the Chaos Lord (literally turning him into two) rather than taking half of his wounds off. So a Chaos Lord has six wounds which makes a lot more sense. 

Anyway. Combat remains to be seen if it’s going to hold it’s weight against shooting. We know things are going to get turned into red mists in combat pretty quickly just from a sheer number of attacks perspective.

Let’s take a look at some close combat weapons, shall we?

We’ve seen already that shooting weapons in the new Warhammer 40,000 use a Strength, AP, Damage system, and melee kit is much the same. The main differences being that there is no range on them, and a lot of them will use the user’s Strength as their basis.

Let’s look at some examples – we’ll start with the classic power weapon lineup.

In the current edition of Warhammer 40,000, the axe is the go-to weapon for a lot of folks. Players gladly took the unwieldy rule in exchange for AP2 and a bonus to Strength. Now, the obvious choice is far from obvious, as they clearly all have their uses. That sword, for example, is looking pretty deadly against most things, with the AP-3 helping it against every type of foe. Even with no bonus to Strength, using the new wounding chart shows that a Strength 4 Space Marine is wounding everything up to Toughness 7 on 5s (which is good,  because a lot of our models have swords).

Even the humble chainsword gets a boost. No longer just a standard combat weapon, the iconic combat weapon wielded by the Adeptus Astartes and many other forces, now gives its bearer more attacks in combat. Perfect for grinding through hordes of low armoured troops, the chainsword now functions on the battlefield how it always has in your head. This change also helps differentiate dedicated combat troops from those just wielding improvised or side-arm weapons.

We can see that all of the above still only do 1 Damage, meaning that while they can chip wounds off bigger stuff, they are primarily infantry killers.

What about some anti-armour stuff though? Check out the power fist:

At the cost of being more cumbersome to swing, it’s dishing out multiple damage with every hit, and at a Strength that will find it easy to wound anything in the game.

Another high damage option is Force weapons. Take a Grey Knight squad of any sort: every guy in there has a blade that, as well as having all the benefits of the equivalent Power weapon, also dishes out D3 damage on every wound! Those guys are going to be phenomenal up-close killers, as they should be.

D3 Damage is good, but if you really want to kill something, try the reaper chainsword. This deals a flat 6 Damage to whatever it wounds. That’s enough to carve a Chaos Lord in half, and a couple of hits will wreck most small and medium vehicles in a single Fight phase.

Make no mistake, when facing a dedicated melee unit, stuff is going to die in combat really, really fast.

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72 responses to 8th Edition 40k – Combat Weapons

I think being "cut in half" is bead D E D dead, not losing half your wounds 🙂

I think the two-weapons = bonus attack thing will be gone. Pistols let you shoot in CC instead, so an Assault Marine is now throwing two CC attacks on the charge, and then firing his bolt pistol in CC next turn – so essentially three hits instead of 2.

On the other hand, as I read it, if you had a chainsword + power fist, you could make one (or however many the model has) attack with the fist, then an extra attack with the chainsword.

I'd expect all CC units will have a similar weapon, so they keep +1 attack, but even with specialist weapons now.

Hmm yes that would make a lot more sense. I was not taking it literal enough clearly!

The ASM would have three on the charge still if non +1 for double weapons; 1 base, 1 for the charge (that was indicated but not specifically said) and 1 for the chainsword. Maybe the pistol can be used that turn as well? Certainly some finer specifics we are missing to get the whole combat picture.

Thinking a bit more about the pistol, well, you can't use it when you charge, since charge is after shooting

Then you can't use it next turn because a) they might run away in the movement phase, before shooting and b) you only shoot on your own turn.

So only if the opponent doesn't run away, you get to shoot your pistols on the third round of combat. Pistols are actually defensive cc weapons, usable after you receive a charge and choose not to fall back, or in protracted combat.

You could still shoot them in the shooting phase before you charge, though. Most charges are going to be within 12", at at least the most common Bolt, Plasma, and Las Pistols are that range.

That was fast.

I'm not sure you can draw from their description that Chaos Lords have 12 wounds. That seems unlikely. Though terminator armor may well give an extra wound or two.

I think it's a little weird that swords get the highest AP value. But it was probably required to get the straight line like that.

GK squads might weirdly make good vehicles killers.

Agreed. I think it's more likely that 6 wounds will kill the Chaos Lord. Slice him in two (a fatal wound) and not reduce its wounds by half.

'Slice in Half' means kill.
I doesn't mean reduce by half the target's wounds.

If the statement is to be taken seriously at all, then 'This deals a flat 6 Damage to whatever it wounds. That’s enough to carve a Chaos Lord in half' means it kills a 6 wound Chaos Lord rather than that the Chaos Lord started with 12 wounds.

The Kirby; his skim reading of the article originally lead him to think that when GW said 'Slice in half' they meant 'reduce by half of the model's wounds'.
He's posted a clarification in pink in the OP.

My Deathwing just got very happy. I knew I was right to keep most of them equipped with Powerfists and Storm Bolters… Now, if Incould just give the Sergeants something other than power swords…

I wonder how Chainfists will work?

Won't be surprised if Chainfists are like melta (roll twice, pick highest), or maybe its 2d3, etc.

But will it be limited to Vehicles/Fortifications or will it work against “normal” targets as well?

On the one hand, the fluff has always been that they were used for cutting open bulkheads and armor plating… On the other hand, punching someone in the gut with a chainsaw should hurt like hell.

I will be curious to see if everything has the option to pick their power weapon and / or if certain things are set.

I suspect Imperials will get to pick their power weapons, but if you're thinking say Banshees then they're definitely going to have preset weapons.

I think it's going to depend on the model. Grey Knights for example have swords – there may be options still like the Halberd / Staff / Hammer but do you still have to pay for them? (Hammer yes obviously). Sanguinary Guard I would imagine have to keep their swords other than their one axe dude, etc.

The last two editions had "Power Weapon" as an option for most Marines, allowing the player the choice to put what they wanted on the model… But Deathwing Sergeants were explicitly only given a Power Sword.

I don't imagine they would change that, but my GKs have all sorts of crazy weapons. The usual ones, Sword, Halberd, Staff, Hammer, but also Force Punch Daggers, a Whip, Axes, a gigantic two handed light saber… when they said Force Weapons could be anything with the… 4th? Ed book, I took them literally lol

I'm a bit underwhelmed. Part of that is disagreement on choices; I'd have made the maul be the best armor-buster, for instance, but that's not a serious issue.

What strikes me as more serious is the assumption that a +1 on S is equal to a +1 on AP. If you're battling foes whose Toughness is nearly equal to your Strength, sure, but why would you assume that? With the new To-wound chart, it's possible to increase your Strength and not affect the die roll at all. Meanwhile, AP is always useful until you run into an invulnerable save. Seems to me you'll get a lot more mileage from a power sword and mauls will continue to languish in obscurity, probably only reaching the table in the hands of IG who know they're up against orks.

With a weapon spread like this, the value of close combat is completely dependent on the interaction between gear and targets. An assault squad of marines with chainsword and bolters will go to town on IG and orks, but should probably hang back and let the tactical squad (or, even better, the intercessor squad) shoot at terminators. I foresee a lot of magnetized fists in our future. ;p

The power axe remains the best all around weapon, sadly. The power sword outperforms it against certain targets, but overall, it's axes all day every day.

Depends a lot on the user, methinks, for the base S4+ crowd the axe is probably better… For Space Elves, Guardsmen, and others?

It’s also a question of what they’re targeting.

I'm way too busy to do the math right now, but against light armor I'd imagine the extra attack from the Chainsword will be better.

I think doing the math is going to be important here but I think Ish sums it up nicely. The Axe has the best of both worlds still so will probably be the best all-rounder use but some might like to split up using Swords / Mauls to get a more specialised spread and depending upon the unit's base strength / what it needs to do.

Which means were going to have a lot of "local preferences mistaken for the global metagame" arguments in the future. Huzzah.

At least that Yes The Truth Hurts Guy isn't going to be pissing in everyone's cornflakes this time around.

From some math if I did it right – swords will be slightly better than axes on T3 and under (same to wound roll on both but swords have more ap) and on T6/T7/T10 (same to wound roll on both but swords have more ap). Axes will be slightly better against T4/T5/T8/T9 (because they will have better to wound rolls than the sword).

The difference works out to about a couple percent either way depending on what T you are fighting.

I don't think having a pistol and CCW will give you another attack anymore in CC. As I understand it, you will get to shoot with pistols while in combat during the shooting phase, which can actually be better I think.

There will definitely be a two weapon +1 attack bonus, just because they're trying to make everything more deadly, including CC. Whether a pistol counts towards that, or if it's just the pistol shot you get, or you can choose, or it's both, who knows? But two weapons will definitely be a thing.

Several of the playtesters have strongly implied that there is no longer a bonus for multiple CC weapons.

Apart from Tyranid critters with their myriad claws, I can’t think of very many models that have a mêlée weapon in each hand. There are absolutely piles of them that have a pistol and mêlée weapon, but it’s already established that the pistol will now allow you to shoot at the enemy you’re in close combat with during your shooting phase.

GK henchmen. Various Chaos cultists, IG variant squads. GK with falchions. Kroot, technically. Tons of Dark Eldar models. Tons of orks. Daemonettes.

There's way more out there than just marines, man.

Comparing against the ol’ power fist, the -1 to hit will only affect space marines vs non-walker vehicles. Against the other things you will be using a power fist, you were already hitting on a +4. And it has actually improved fighting against CC beasts like deamon princes or avatar of khaine, where they were hitting on +5.

Why would your to hit roll have changed? Marines just hit on 3+ against everything with both shooting and melee now.

He's comparing 8th (flat 4+) vs targets where you'd really want a fist in 7th (WS4 at worst usually, so hitting on a 4+). Of course, that's ignoring nid MCs, but…nid MCs.

Powerfists now impose a –1 on to hit rolls; So Space Marines using one will hit on an (effective) 5+ instead of a 4+.

According to quantum physics, there are an infinite number of realities reflecting all possible outcomes for all possible decisions. Just because I was “wrong” in this reality, doesn’t mean I was wrong in others. Stop being so linear.

Am i right in assuming from the comments that the maul is inferior to the sword and axe?

If I'm doing my math correct, assuming you're up against a 3+ save, have a 3+ WS, and have a base S of 4, your chances of wounding on an attack with a power weapon would be (rounded to nearest percent):

T4: Axes 29%, Sword 28%, Maul 22%
T5: Axes 22%, Maul 22%, Sword 19% (Axes have less chance to wound than Maul but higher penetration, which evens them out at this level)
T6: Sword 19%, Maul 17%, Axes 15%
T7: same as T6 since the wound roll is unchanged

Sorry, my T7 statement is incorrect. Sword and Axe are same as T6, but Maul goes down to 11%

The mauls look like a niche choice to me. Sword against t3 unless 5+ or worse, then maul. Axe against t4. Maul against t5 with 4+ or worse otherwise axe. Maul against t6 with 5+ or worse, otherwise sword. Sword against t7. Axe against t8. Maul against t10.

At least axes aren't far superior to swords. If you want to gear towards fighting MEQ or terminators, axes will be better statistically though. Swords would be good against non-MEQ troops and more effective than axes against medium tanks/MCs. I probably wouldn't bother taking a maul.

Pretty much. I can't really think of many t5/6 units with poor armour; ogryns and their dark eldar equivalents I guess?

The Sword and Axe are better against the general class of infantry; Mauls have the advantage against "heavyweight" model that have higher toughness, especially T5/6 ones.

However, it's worth noting that the differences are actually relatively small in most cases. A Maul might be the "worst" weapon in some cases, but still be more than enough to do the job.

I ask because i have twenty metal terminators yet to be modeled with their power weapons

ya true. IDK what they would want you to represent a maul with anyway though because most Thunder Hammers look pretty maul like.

They'd be like clubs, nail bats, that sort of thing. I think? Something blunt, smaller then a staff, but without a head like a hammer.

For the life of me I don't know why they didn't just make things easier and just go "Sword, Axe, Staff, Hammer, Spear". There's no confusion on what is what in that list.

Oh, Artemi, you need to hang out with more medievalist academics. I can (and have) had incredibly heated arguments on what is or is not a sword, axe, staff, hammer, spear, mace, dagger, dirk, knife, polearm, poleaxe, and so on and so forth.

Can we turn this into a six-hundred page argument about the various types of polearms, their uses, and whether or not some of them were popular or even existed outside of textbooks and perhaps display pieces? I've been dying to get into a nitpicky shouting match about glaive-guisearms for a while now.

Thanks everyone for the replies ive got a lot of swords and axes off ebay glad i never bothered getting a load of mauls as seems from the comments there not going to find much use on chaos terminators

Can some clever ppl do some more maths

Hyperactivebuffalo said : For a Marine

VS toughness 3 models
with a 6+ save maul is the best
with a 5+ save maul is the best
with a 4+ save sword is the best
with a 3+ save sword is the best

VS toughness 4 models
with a 6+ save axe and maul are equal
with a 5+ save axe is the best
with a 4+ save axe is the best
with a 3+ save sword is the best
with a 2+ save sword and axe are equal

VS toughness 5 models
with a 6+ save maul is the best
with a 5+ save maul is the best
with a 4+ save maul is the best
with a 3+ save maul and axe are equal
with a 2+ save axe is the best

VS toughness 6 models
with a 6+ save maul is the best
with a 5+ save maul is the best
with a 4+ save maul is the best
with a 3+ save sword is the best
with a 2+ save sword is the best

VS toughness 7 models
with a 6+ save all are equal
with a 5+ save sword and axe are equal
with a 4+ save sword is the best
with a 3+ save sword is the best
with a 2+ save sword is the best

VS toughness 8 and 9 models
with a 6+ save maul is the best
with a 5+ save maul is the best
with a 4+ save axe is the best
with a 3+ save axe is the best
with a 2+ save axe is the best

I love the idea of Chainswords getting to attack twice. They could have given the models 2 attacks in a lot of other ways, but the sound of "bzzzzzt BZZT BZZZERRRR!" is my favourite!

Kinda wondering if power lances will still be a thing. I modeled a handful onto my Death Company to mix things up, especially when fielding large sized squads, because a good DC is all about leveraging your charge anyway.