Let’s talk about the most forgotten weapons in the game.
Grenades have a long and venerable history in 40K. From the earliest days of the game they have played a role on the battlefield giving a unit extra flexibility or firepower. With the advent of 8th Edition an attempt has been made to brings grenades back into use and give them a role in the game. While grenades are a very cool weapon, and in some cases powerful, overall they just kind of suck. Lets look at some of the problems with grenades and some options for fixing them.
Not all grenades are rad
In general I tend to divide grenades into two types. There are your standard damage dealing grenades, these are your frag, krak, melta or their xenos equivalents. These are by far the most common grenades in the game and they have the biggest problems. The second type of grenades are your special ability grenades, these are your T’au Photon Grenade or your Reiver Shock Grenade. They tend not to do damage, or do minor amounts, but instead have a unique effect. They are more like a special ability the unit gets than a real weapon. While these weapons are much rarer they tend to have actual uses.
The Forgotten Weapon
In the days of yore…
One of the biggest issues with grenades is simple that they tend to get overlooked. Because they are a very situational weapon, close range, have to replace your normal attack, etc, many players simple forget to use them at all. While this is more user error, their small role in the game, and the fact that they are often underwhelming, doesn’t help people remember they are there. But even when you do remember them, are they worth it?
The Basic Problems
Look at dem rules
Grenades in general suffer from three major drawbacks:
Short Range: The first is their short range, almost all grenades have a range of six inches, with some having only four inches. This makes a very narrow band from which you can shoot them, generally this will be right before you assault and it’s fairly rare you would get to more than one or two chances in a game to throw the grenade.
Very Few Attacks: Secondly is they lack a bonus way of getting attacks. The other two classes of weapons in the game which tend to be short ranged both have special abilities to let them get more shots in. Assault weapons, which then to have some of the shortest ranges in the game get to advance and fire. Pistols, also almost always short range, can be fired even if the unit is in combat. This allows both those weapons to see more use over the course of a game. Grenades don’t get these abilities , though both would make sense for them.
Totally a Squats reference
It Replaces Shooting: Thirdly firing a grenade take the place of any of your other shooting. This is the biggest killer of grenades, and the one that makes least sense. Grenades are a fun little bonus attack, and in generally are not that powerful. If there were an additional attack you made, they would be pretty nice. As a replacement for your attack they can actually make you worse off then if you had stuck with your regular weapon. They are already a weapon that you have few opportunities to use. Forcing you to give up your normal shooting just means often you won’t even use them when you can. Moreover how much sense does it make that a model could fire say, four lascannons, or 5 bolt pistols, but throwing a grenade prevents it from doing anything else? Are grenades so good they need to be limited? Let’s take a look.
The most common grenade in the game, by far, is the Frag Grenade. A great number of factions and units carry frag grenades and even more have identical weapons with different names (Orks, Genestealer Cult, etc.). This is most basic and common grenade in the game, and it is next to useless. It’s a lascgun with D6 shots and a 6 inch range. So what really hampers it, and most grenades? Well, like other old blast weapons, a random number of attacks is a huge downside. Sure it could get six, but its just as likely to get one, making it an unreliable weapon.
This guy learned from the first 20 minutes of Serenity
Random shots and low power make the frag grenade a bad choice for almost any unit to use. A unit of space marines for instance would trade two bolter shots for 3-4 average lasgun shots, possibly losing shots. Even a basic Astra Miliatrum squad will gain an additional one or two lasgun shots, and again still have a 1/3rd change of ended not better, or even worse than before. A unit that has been given commands might be in even worse shape. The only unit that will really benefit from grenades is a pistol armed one, then throwing a grenade is at least better than shooting a laspistol, but not by much.
Other Offensive Grenades
Most other offence grenades suffer from similar failings as frag grenades. Suffering from all above mentioned grenade problems , they take on underwhelming firepower or random shots. A krak grenade isn’t a bad weapon, but a lot of the time I’d still rather have two bolter shots. Melta bombs are powerful, but 4 inch range makes them next to un-usable. Like frag, most grenades tend to a have a narrow use as better than making a single pistol shot, on the one turn you are within six inches and not in combat.
You need some mad Frisbee skills to throw T’au grenades
Grenades with special effects, like the T’au Photon Grenades or the Reiver Shock Grenades, tend to be much better. These weapons provide an effect other than my basic attack. Still they do suffer from all the downsides of normal grenades. In general though I tend not even to think of these as grenades, they are more like special rules the unit gets than an additional weapon. They have their place, but are limited.
So, Are They Worth It?
No Fry, it really wasn’t
Well, when it comes to damage dealing grenades, meh? Look, there are certainly some situations when you can get a benefit from them. My Astra Militarum character will totally throw a frag grenade over shooting his laspistol. But in general for the amount of work that goes in using them, and the rarity with which they can be used, their effect on the game is really pretty minor. I bet you could remove all damage dealing grenades from the game with next to no effect on game balance, and few people would even notice they were gone. That to me is a huge mark against how GW executed grenades in 8th edition.
If you’re mad about me using this GIF you should really let it go
Frankly I think changing any one of the core issues I have with would make them much more viable.
- Allowing them to fire after advancing would give you more chances to get them in range. It would also be cinematic, the guy with the grenades making a mad dash across no-mans land to throw a grenade into the enemy position is a staple of war movies.
- If they could fire in close combat they would also get a huge improvement as they are better than most pistols. In particular this would make a lot of sense vs vehicles, as the image of troops climbing over a tank to throw grenades in its hatches, or attaching a melta bomb to one, is a classic. Not to mention this would be consistent with grenade uses in previous editions.
- Lastly allowing a model to fire both grenades and another weapon. This would make using a grenade a clear advantage instead of in many cases an iffy trade off.
While I doubt we will see any real fix to grenades any time soon, it would be nice to see them get a boost and move away from being a forgotten weapon.
Well guys I’m going to make like an RPG and rocket on out of here. Let us know what you think of Grenades and if/how they should be fixed, down in the comments!