40k: Grenades Kind of Suck


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.

Two Types of Grenades

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.

Somehow a more compact and mobile weapon than just a single 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.

Frag Out

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.

Special Grenades


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.

A Fix?

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! 

  • YetAnotherFacelessMan

    You’re a fool if you skip your grenades. A space marine rapid-firing his bolter at another space marine will deliver 0.44 wounds on average, after to-hits, to-wounds and a 3+ save. A frag grenade would deliver 0.52 instead. If it’s more effective than bolters, it’s more effective than lasguns.

    Your article especially doesn’t make sense in terms of guardsmen. “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.” That’s nonsense. First off, if you are giving up a lasgun to throw a grenade, you have a 2/3 chance of getting more shots, a 1/6 chance of it being the same, and a 1/6 chance of it being worse. Secondly, if you throw the grenade with the sergeant, who only has a laspistol usually anyways, he has up to six times the number of shots he’d have otherwise.

    I throw grenades every time I have a model within 6″, unless the only guys left all have specialty weapons. I firmly believe you should too, if given the option.

    • MadProphet

      Agreed. And when you talk about f.e. eldar grenades (S4, -1 AP, 1 Wound, D6 shots) they are even better.

      Disagree with the OP. Grenades are fine.

      • TheCrimsonFist

        Yeah grenades are fine, the range is limiting, so you won’t use the all the time, but I’d rather have my guardsman throw one than use his Lasgun…

        • J Mad

          As a note, my Harlequins uses their grenades all the time.

        • euansmith

          If nothing else, it is cool.

    • Bootneck

      The only exception to that on Gaurdsmen would be if i had issued “First Rank, Second Rank” order on the unit whilst with 12″ of the enemy.

      Rapid fire 2 is more consistent (4) than D6 shots of a grenade.

      • Bert Miller

        agreed but you can still throw grenades with the sgt who doesnt benefit from FRFSRF. worth noting if you’re running a budget sgt with just a laspistol

    • I_am_Alpharius

      Well I was going to make comment. However you’ve hit the nail on the head. Saves me some time.

    • Bootneck

      There’s absolutely no point equipping sergeants with anything other than a Boltgun – they offer nothing with a Laspistol and CC weapon as there so poor.

      Better off getting extra shots throughout the game, secondly its a waste of points albeit a small amount – however if you do that over multiple squads the saving could be used to buy another squad. Boots on the ground is always better than some token power weapon or the odd plasma pistol shot.

      • David

        Storm bolter?

        • Severius_Tolluck

          Nah he means normal bolter, as they will be probably talking about over watch and assaulting, meaning rapid fire would be in effect.

        • Bootneck

          No the sergeant can replace his laspistol with a ranged weapon, Probably the most fitting is a Boltgun or a bolter.

          They don’t have the option for a Stormbolter.

          • YetAnotherFacelessMan

            And, as I’ve mentioned above, a boltgun does less damage on average than a frag grenade. I agree with you, it’s a good option to take. If I had a bolter sergeant in a FRF,SRF-buffed unit of guardsmen, though… I’d use him to throw a grenade.

          • James Mcclennan

            would love for my Scion Sgt to replace there pistol for the hot shot rife.

  • James Regan

    I’m not sure whether i am remembering right, but have krak grenades actually gone down in strength since they became a weapon rather than a simple modifier? because thatwould be an easy fix, just make sure meltabombs do better damage (2d6 damage maybe? its only one attack, and makes sure strapping a fusion engine to the side of a tank is more powerful than shooting it with what is effectively a very hot hair dryer- plus you could give tank-busta bombs back their weird d6x2 mechanic from the days of yore)

  • marlowc

    The grenade rules are a bit strange aren’t they, why on earth should only 1 model use a grenade?
    Now that templates are gone I think it would have been better to just have grenades as a special ability incorporated into the unit’s melee attack. Better against enemy in cover, better against vehicles, that sort of thing?

    • Mike X (Official)

      …You think using grenades in melee are a good idea?

      • euansmith

        Certainly on the assault; and maybe during the fight if you picture it as a lot less static than the figures represent. 😉

      • marlowc

        Against enemy in trenches/bunkers/buildings yes. That’s how they’re actually used 🙂

        • Mike X (Official)

          Melee in gaming (either video or tabletop) is considered hand to hand combat. Using a grenade in this example would be literally dropping it at your own feet, not throwing it down a corridor or around a corner.

          • af

            Is it? The models are too static a representation to know what they are actually doing; one could easily think they aren’t actually fighting hand-to-hand, but instead firing at very close range, and maybe throwing a few grenades seconds before assaulting the position.

      • Sure

        He identifies as orc, so yeah, he would think grenades are a good idea in melee.

  • Tijmen

    I’m not sure whether i am remembering right, but have krak grenades actually gone down in strength since they became a weapon rather than a simple modifier? because thatwould be an easy fix, just make sure meltabombs do better damage (2d6 damage maybe? its only one attack, and makes sure strapping a fusion engine to the side of a tank is more powerful than shooting it with what is effectively a very hot hair dryer- plus you could give tank-busta bombs back their weird d6x2 mechanic from the days of yore)

    • Bootneck

      Krak grens are still Str6, I think there actually better in 8th than 7th due to the changes in AP.

      Previously AP4 was virtually useless vs SM’s in power armour, now its -1sv which gives a 50/50 chance to kill plus they do D3 wounds which is potentially better than the chance to cause instant death to T3 creatures in 7th ed which was limited to IG and space pansies.

  • Munn

    Krack grenades are awesome, idk what you’re talking about.

  • Mindwarp

    Intercessors also get the very nifty auxiliary grenade launcher for just one point, giving them a 30 inch range with grenades. 30″ Krak or Frag grenades is actually pretty awesome.

  • tylran

    Also, Intercessors get auxiliary grenade launchers, which means that their grenades have a range of 30″.

    • NagaBaboon

      But their guns have ap -1 so it’s suprising how often you might as well just fire the bolt rifle

      • Bootneck

        May as just well fire a single Krak grenade than fire a bolt rifle, Str6 -1 D3

        • NagaBaboon

          Yeah sure, If the model has more than 1 wound or is more than 15″ away. within 15 inches though I’d take 2 S4 Ap-1 shots over 1 S6 Ap-1 shot against base 1W infantry. I’m not saying there is never a time for grenade over bolt rifle, I’ve just been suprised how often it’s seemed like a better idea to fire the bolt rifle on my squads, but then my main opponents are usually orks and harlequins who are always in rapid fire range turn 1.

          • Bootneck

            Just did math hammer on the two options, always assuming you get an average roll on the frag grenade. The only time a bolt rifle is better is if you roll 3 or less vs orks, and 2 or less for Quins:-

            2 shots bolt rifle = 0.593 unsaved wounds vs T3 5++ Quin

            3 shots frag grenade = 0.667 unsaved wounds vs T3 5++ Quin

            4 shots frag grenade = 0.889 unsaved wounds vs T3 5++ Quin

            2 shots bolt rifle = 0.667 unsaved wounds vs T4 6+ ork

            3 shots frag grenade = 0.556 unsaved wounds vs T4 6+ ork

            4 shots frag grenade = 0.741 unsaved wounds vs T4 6+ ork

  • Bootneck

    There is also overwatch to consider, as it doesn’t say they cannot be used.

    • Ian Chisholm

      Exactly. I use grenades in overwatch constantly. They’re a pretty reliable way to get hits in.
      As someone else pointed out, pistol users get the most out of this. I’ll have to remember that for future games.

      • IronGryphon

        so, still a d6, needing sixes in overwatch, yeah? And still limited to one model?

        • 301stFeinminsterArmoured

          Average of 3 shots vs. 1-2 is objectively better.

  • NagaBaboon

    Since we got the aux grenade launchers on the Intercessors, I thought ‘finally, I might have a use for grenades again!’ but so far, once I’ve sat and rouged out the maths of the shot in my head, it’s been rare that it’s worth using either grenade type over just firing the bolt rifle. Even the extra range does not fix them, they’re just crap, if they were a bonus attack then yeah that’d make them usable but otherwise they’re a waste of time.

    • Fraser1191

      Someone pointed out firing out a krak grenade. Which is better than the boltrilfe at 30″ I’d say

      • NagaBaboon

        Yeah there are plenty of times the grenade is better but I keep finding myself firing the bolt rifle once the targets within 15″. It doesn’t really matter and this isn’t meant to be a complaint about the aux grenade launcher, they’re not useless and I’ll still happily pay the 1 point for them. I suppose my point is even once you fix the range it’s suprised me how often the bolt rifle has been at least an equally good option if not a better one.

    • YetAnotherFacelessMan

      Bolt Rifle >15″, shooting at a guardsman: 0.37 damage avg
      Bolt Rifle 15″, shooting at a marine: 0.17 damage avg
      Bolt Rifle <15", shooting at a marine: 0.33 damage avg
      Frag Grenade, shooting at a marine: 0.26 damage avg

      Please stop calling them a waste of time. They are clearly better than a bolt rifle at greater than 15 inches, and if you're shooting guardsmen, even then they do more damage on average.

  • David

    Just up the grenades power and give them a role and they become useful 0.22-0.25 for frag Vs marine over bolter is just not that big a difference

    Frag grenade 1d6 attacks if <10 models 2d6 if 10 models or greater

    Make it a conscript nerf to kill large units

    Krak grenades +1S gives it a much better success rate against vehiclesbut no difference Vs infantry

    Melta bomb D3 attacks make them a proper anti tank weapon worth its pts

  • Bonesaw1o1

    just make the ‘Fire in the hole!’ rule from the city fighting rules part of the main rules, is the enemy in a building/cover? yes = automatically the highest value of hits (6 for a D6). there, grenades now have a flavourful and tactical use

    • NagaBaboon

      That is a pretty good idea

      • JPMcMillen

        That is a very good idea, and very realistic.

  • mgdavey

    Planet Woebegone, where every weapon should be above average.

  • Talos2

    THis with that leaked “gun barrel” that’s clearly not in another post and I genuinely worrying about the state of bols. This is tripe.

  • JPMcMillen

    The main issues is game balance. They have to be useful enough that they will get used, but no so powerful that they are constantly spammed.

  • Calgar

    I think grenades have been handled fairly well this edition, better than last edition by far, I mean you can throw them again. I have found them to be very usefull, in fact frag grenade thrown by a platoon commander won me a game by stripping the lt wound off an Imperial Knight.

  • Gene Warren

    Grenades should just go back to being another weapon option, it makes *no* sense to limit it to just one person in the unit. Most should probably be assault 1

  • Jeremy Larson

    Basically, unless in combat, every time I would fire pistols I throw a krak grenade too, unless a frag would wound on a 4+, in which case that gets chucked. Grenades (with the exception of psyche-out grenades) are just fine.

  • usGrant7977

    “Rad” grenades. Lolz

  • BrianDavion

    the Aux grenade launcher that inceptors can take is a bit of a fix for that unit IMHO

  • 301stFeinminsterArmoured

    Just Stop. Every edition we have this discussion, and it boils down to one side having no idea how difficult it is to actually use grenades in a combat situation, and the other side not wanting everyone carrying thermal detonators in their pockets. Grenades aren’t supposed to be a replacement for small/long arms. Granted, it would be nice if Frags negated Overwatch, or did something else that simulates their role as a suppressive weapon, but even in a system where you have the design space to fully simulate the effects of Grenade usage, limiting their usage keeps the game from bogging down and prevents things like inevitable bounce-back (a realworld problem with Frag grenades) from ruining gameplay.

  • Ell Tee

    Allow thrown grenades to target enemy units out of LOS. You know, by throwing a grenade over a wall or through a window.