I’ve taken a break from 40k for the last few years, but I’m keen to come back for 8th edition. Chatbox regulars would recognise my name (Neil Phillips), but I’ve not written a Blog post before.
I had some spare time today, and spent it building this giant chart:
What is this thing of beauty? Well, it’s every Space Marine ranged weapon, up against a variety of targets.
How to Read the Table
Here we see how some basic marine weapons stack up against various enemies. The weapon stats are shown in blue, with a column in green and red for each enemy. For example, a Guard with Toughness 3, 5+ Save and 1 Wound. Pay attention just to the Toughness, Save and Wound listed about each column; the T7 3+ 8W column is relevant for the majority of Marine and Tau vehicles we’ve seen so far. (Wounds don’t make a difference above 6 for this exercise).
The results down a column is the number of “Expected Wounds”. For example, a Storm Bolter kills about 1.19 Guardsman, on average. Meanwhile, the Storm Bolter puts about 0.07 wounds on a Land Raider. You may prefer to consider the inverse, 1/0.07 = 14 Storm Bolters will put one wound on a Land Raider, on average. You don’t have to understand what the numbers mean exactly, just “higher is better”.
Some caveats: The charts assume BS3+, no cover, and Rapid Fire weapons are at short range. There is assumed to be an unlimited unit size (because that one time a flamer kills 6 Space Marines counts towards the average). Damage gets “capped” so for example, a Meltagun that rolls 6 damage only counts as 2 against a Primaris. I’ve picked 10 targets given input from the Chatbox. Some of the weapon stats are taken from leaks and thus could be wrong. Also, I might have made a mistake somewhere in the excel formula, leaving this article based on a pack of lies!
Today, we’ll look at the Space Marine Tactical Squad ranged options.
The first thing to jump out is: Wow, the Flamer is awful! It’s barely better than a Plasma Gun against guardsmen. Absolutely does not perform it’s expected role, terrible range, forget it exists.
Next, we have the big question: Grav or Plasma. If we ignore the Supercharge mode, the Plasma and Grav are fairly similar in power against most things. Grav is better against multi-wound models with 3+ or better saves, as we’d expect – which could be handy if you’re being overrun by Primaris marines. But by the time you consider Plasma’s superior range, lower point cost, and (if you’re desperate) ability to Supercharge – it just blows Grav out of the water, in my opinion.
Melta gives a little bit of extra kick against vehicles, but it’s not the one-hit-wonder it used to be. Plasma is your go-to gun.
Now as the 8th ed rumours started rolling in, I’d been excited that this edition would be the Heavy Bolter’s time to shine.
And… how wrong I was! Between wounding Guardsmen on 3’s, and not completely removing their save, it just doesn’t mow them down like they used to. It can hurt vehicles, but it’s not great at it. Most notably, the Plasma Cannon does equal-or-better against all targets except Orks. At least the Heavy Bolter is cheap! That may be enough.
The Missile Launcher is actually almost as good as a Heavy Bolter against light infantry! It struggles a bit against Marine equivalents (interestingly, Frag & Krak are equally useful there), but picks up against heavier targets. The Plasma Cannon is a slightly better all-rounder, although shorter range and cheaper.
But who cares about any of that. The Grav-Cannon wins in almost every category. It completely outshines the Multimelta, even in the Multimelta’s “specialty” category, heavy vehicles – it does almost as good at 24” as the Multimelta does at half range! It’s only 1 point more expensive, too.
It looks like the go-to gun on a tactical squad will be the Grav-Cannon, or possibly a Heavy Bolter to save points. The 24” range matches the threat range of the rest of their guns, the -1 to hit when moving is less of an issue because it rolls lots of dice.. it’s just good.
It’s a shame, what could have been – the first draft of this article was based on an incomplete scan, and I missed the Grav-Cannon as an option for Tacticals (I haven’t played since 6th ed!). The other weapons are all reasonably well balanced against each other, and this was a rosy paragraph talking about what a good job GW had done.
A Big Ol’ Table of (almost) Everything
(I’ve left out weapons with special rules I haven’t implemented yet, including Combis. Also most “Twin” weapons are left out, but you can just double the numbers given)
The brand-new Predator Autocannon is looking pretty shmick!
That’s all for today. If you find any errors in the table, please let me know (I’m sure I made some!). Also let me know what other things you’d like to see on the target list, and what race you’d like to see covered next (pending leaks…)