40K: Evolving Weapon Stats

Everyone wants to see the 8th Ed. weapon Stats. Let’s start back when GW had weapons with similar stats – Rogue Trader and move forward.

We’ve all seen some of the new weapon stats from GW:


That has a lot of folks wondering what the other weapons will look like in 8th.

Weapon stats have been fairly static for a decade, but back in the day, GW played aorund a bit with the weapons and the early editions of 40K had save modifiers, and damage as well.  Let’s go back 30 years and see what can learn from how GW initially designed the grimdark’s weapons and modified them over time.

Rogue Trader 1987

The original weapon chart. Short and sweet – this is GW first pass at what weapons should do.

In very late Rogue Trader the Warhammer 40,000 Battle Manual (1992) collated together all the weapons that had been added to the game.

Note the crushing chainfist, and exotics like the web pistol.

The bread and butter basic weapons gives you a good baseline for how GW sees things.

The Assault Cannon was a monster, the Missile launcher a lot of ammo choices and tanks lived in terror of the Multi-melta.

Look at all those grenades! Good times.

2nd Edition 1993

2nd Edition cleaned things up a bit from the very complex and fiddly rogue Trader and gave GW a chance to fine-tune the weapons. Note the continued use of short and long range to-hit modifiers, and the addition of Armour Penetration for the new vehicle rules.

3rd Edition 1998

This marked the beginning of the “modern era” for 40K. It grew up into the modern company level game we still play and the weapons got the major overhaul to make then look familiar to to modern players.

Range was simplified, save modifers we replaced by the AP system and damage went away altogether.  It’s pretty much this for 20 years.

~What do you think GW will take from their own weapons heritage as they return many of the old weapon stats to the game.

  • Karru

    Well, a good guess would be that they don’t give the D10 damage for the Krak Missile. I do hope that they’ll get the -3 AP and D6 wounds. I personally prefer Missile Launchers over Lascannons in certain cases due to their ability to fire both Frag and Krak Missiles.

    Overall, I don’t think that GW will be taking much out of their old editions, it’s more in line with AoS stats to certain degree. We already have a good baseline for all weapons, which is worrying to certain point as for some reason a 5″ blast is equal to D6 shots.

    • Arufel

      I very much doubt they’ll make Krak missiles as good as a lascannon shot. -2 AP and d3 wounds is more likely.

      • Shinnentai

        Yeah – missile launchers should always be weaker than dedicated-purpose weapons to balance their greater versatility.

        RE blast weapons, I assume the relatively low potential for number of hits relates to the increase in their single-target damage potential? The multiple hits still count for this I assume?

      • Karru

        Well, one could argue that the Lascannon is slightly better at AT role than the Missile Launcher due to having Strength 9 instead of 8. It might give it a slight edge over the Missile Launcher against heavier Vehicles. For example, a Lascannon would wound a Leman Russ on a 3+ instead of a 4+ like the Krak Missile. Maybe something like a Land Raider will get Toughness 9 where the Krak can only wound it on a 5+.

        AoS has many of these types of situations where unit has access to two extremely similar weapons, but their effectiveness might change depending on the target in question.

        Missile Launcher could also be made around the same points as a Lascannon to compensate.

        • Arufel

          My personal opinion is that the weapons would be too similar if that was the case. With wounding being so much more obtuse I think a single pip of strength in difference would make taking missile launchers a no brainer.

        • Shinnentai

          Yes I’ve noticed the profusion of very similar weapons found in AoS – not one of its strong points in my opinion. Adding variety without meaning is bad game design, because players are having to look up or remember more without it having enough effect on their tactical decisions.

          Hopefully 40k can avoid this pitfall by accepting slightly more complexity in its base rules (I also disagree with GW’s continuing trend of stripping away the basic game concepts and applying them using unit-specific special rules).

          • Steven Hyche

            This is one time comparing this to AoS is apples and oranges. Wfb had very few weapon choices copared to W40k. In WFB you pretty much has hand weapons, spear, halbered, flail, two handed weapons and a shield. It wasnt a game where certain weapons were designed for certain targets.

          • davepak

            Actually, I see it more as a “don’t worry as much what your mini is modeled with”.

  • Shinnentai

    Really glad they’ve toned down the 2nd edition save mods (which were pretty much all 1 too much). Seems like Damage will be better balanced in this edition too. In 2nd Damage often felt like it was too much when it came to wounding characters, but too little when it came to armor pen against vehicles.

    Would have been happy to see to-hit mods for weapons and cover return, though I guess with orks at BS2 that might be a bit unfair on them!

    • On the other hand are MEQ with 2+ in cover also pretty harsh

      • Shinnentai

        True enough! Like I say, I would have loved to see the to-hit mods return along with the save-mods, but I’m wary that I often see 2nd edition through rose-tinted glasses!

        Re the Orks, You could easily see Shootas being +2 to hit at close range (with a small close range band of say 8″) to compensate in part for BS2.

        • I know these glasses… does that make us old?

  • AircoolUK

    *puts on his nerdy nigel voice*

    That’s not the original Rogue Trader chart. The original was two tone pale blue against grey blue and printed on thin card that was part of a pullout section at the back of the book.

  • Crevab

    I just hope all the armies’ basic weapons got stripped down. But I could just see them give Shurikens AP d3

    • You can be glad if shuriken canons are ap-1 rend and not just -1 ap. Catpults will get no ap modifier for sure. Thay cant get same or better ap than Numarines.

      • Rob brown

        What is Rend in the new system? I haven’t seen that yet?

        • KingAceNumber1

          Reduces your armor save by the value listed. Marines take a 4+ against rend-1 weapons.

          • Rob brown

            Ah so people are referring to Armour Penetration as rending because that’s what it’s referred to in AOS. That makes sense.

            I thought someone might have seen rending as a separate 40k entity and I’d just missed it.

        • Nobody did 😉 But I’d be surprised if shurikens lost the ability entirely.

          • Rob brown

            Yeah I misunderstood what people were meaning when they said ‘-1 rend’, thinking they meant the rend element as something additional to the AP.

            I do hope some weapons will have more interesting abilities like the harlequins kiss or the warpspider’s webs. Even if only against infantry. It feels like AP alone could be very samey.

            That said 7th ed rending was pretty samey and always felt like a crap shoot unless you’re throwing lots of dice at a problem.

      • KingAceNumber1

        I expect shuriken weapons to have no basic rend but 6’s to hit to be rend-1 or some such thing.

  • orionburn

    Anti-plant weapons are no longer needed because all the vegans in the 40k verse have been wiped out.

    • KingAceNumber1

      Maybe they’re the origin for Orks? Fungus people that indiscriminately hate all other sentient forms of existence?

    • davepak

      that and my kroot have not seen a “forest” in about two years …

  • KingAceNumber1

    “Anti plant grenade”

    That seems… really specific. I started in 3rd, anyone care to elaborate why one would need to develop a grenade specifically designed for killing vegetation?

    • Commissar Molotov

      Instant cover removal!

    • davepak

      yeah, ever hear of agent orange?

  • Kinsman

    Lots of illegible charts in this article. That’s what I got out of it :/

  • BigGrim

    Ah, the good ol’ days when Shuriken Catapults weren’t stupidly short range.

    • memitchell

      If only Dark Eldar had had Shuriken Catapults, and Eldar Guardians had had Splinter Rifles. Both unit types would have made sense. And, this Ole’ World would have been a much better place. Sigh…

      • Shinnentai

        I’ll take my Guardians with Lasguns, thank you very much Sir!

        *PEW PEW!*

  • Nwttp

    I kind of like the idea of a short/long range to hit modifier. More tactical choices/realistic. Though maybe it wouldn’t make a big difference.

  • This Dave

    Playing Shadow War: Armageddon which uses Second Edition rules gave me flashbacks and a preview of how it looks 8th Edition will play.