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40k: 8th Weapon Profiles & Their Impact

10 Minute Read
May 26 2017
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GW has show off a bunch of 8th Ed. weapons. Let’s have a look at what we know, what’s changed and how this might impact the game.

Information is pouring (okay, trickling) in and we now know what most weapon types will roughly look like. So let’s have a look at what we know, what’s changed and how this might impact the game.

What We’ve Seen

Please keep in mind, there is still a lot of information missing (most specifically points here but also exactly how cover is going to work, can you shoot heavy weapons / rapid fire weapons and assault, what are the missions, etc.) which will drastically impact what we are discussing today. We are keeping a track of the new rules as they come through over at 3++ is the new Black but here’s a quick fire summary relating to weapons.

  • The save modifier appears to be as follows for a general rule of thumb (some exceptions noted)
    • AP5 = 0 modifier;
    • AP4 = -1 modifier;
    • AP3 = -2 modifier;
    • AP2 = -3 modifier;
    • AP1 = -4 modifier.
  • Rending is AP-4 on a wound roll of 6;
  • Pistols can be fired in close combat;
  • Large blasts do D6 wounds;
  • Small blast grenades also do D6 wounds;
  • Ordnance weapons likely do D3 damage;
  • Lascannons and meltaguns do D6 damage;
  • Templates auto-hit and cause D6 wounds and have various ranges;
  • Rapid Fire is still double the shots at half range;
  • -1 to hit when you move with a Heavy weapon;
  • Twin-linked weapons get double the shots;
  • Combi-weapons can always use their special weapon;
  • Combi-weapons can fire both special weapon and parent weapon at a -1 to hit;
  • Sniper weapons can target characters without restriction;
  • When rolling to see how many wounds, melta weapons get to roll two dice and pick the highest when within half range;
  • MCs do D6 damage in combat;
  • D weapons look to do a straight 6 damage;
  • Force weapons do D3 damage;
  • Chainswords provide an extra attack and there is no bonus for having 2 combat weapons without a special rule;
  • Power Fists are Sx2 User, AP-3 and D3 damage with a -1 to hit;
  • Power Weapons are as follows:
    • Power Sword – S User, AP-3;
    • Power Axe – +1S, AP-2;
    • Power Maul – +2S, AP-1;
  • All units can split fire.

Let’s look at a some of the impacts this is going to have.

Wounding and Damage

At first glance we see a complete change of the wounding system (not to mention the new strength and toughness chart) which will make the game more streamlined and easier to play; not a bad thing. The biggest change of course is that anything can wound anything. This will vastly change the optimum strength ranges for shooting certain toughness levels and impact what weapons are more important in particular scenarios.

Everyone is making noise over Lasguns bringing down a <insert giant thing here> and lower strength weapons have certainly improved in this regard as although they still wound Marines on 5’s, they are damaging all the way up to T5 on 5’s and to T10 on 6’s. First Rank Fire! Second Rank Fire! mass Lasguns could very well be a blinding affair for any armored behemoths rolling around on a couple of wounds remaining.

Conversely, the lovely range of five and six appears to have a leg up as well. A T5 Plague Marine now needs a S10 weapon to be wounded on a 2+ while previously even S7+ wounded on a 2+. Your Lascannon / Missile Launcher / Autocannon are now doubling their chances of not wounding compared to editions past against T5 / T6. This makes wounding your medium to high range toughness a lot harder for your heavy weapons; however, the reverse is also true. Your anti-infantry weaponry is now a) able to damage everything as mentioned above and b) damages more durable models at an improved rate. The same T5 Plague Marine is now wounded on a 5+ by a Lasgun compared to a 6+ before.

The same magic that T5/T6 brings against hardier shots also applies for S5 weapons and are that much more effective as an offensive tool. Gaining significant damage increases up to T9 (wounding on a 5+) means things like Heavy Bolters, Tau Pulse Weapons, etc. now actually have a role rather than just incidental damage. They aren’t as effective against T3 models (wounding on 3’s) but their spectrum of “ideal” targets is quite a bit wider than before unlike say S6-7 which are now wounding T4 on a 3+ and T7/8 on a 5+ still.

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What I imagine is this will lead to a larger range of weapons being utilised (assuming their points are costed correctly). Each strength, AP and damage range of weapons will have particular targets it is more effective against and there’s unlikely to be a “one weapon to rule them all” like we’ve seen in editions past. The good old days of mass S6-8 firepower to torrent away vehicles and tougher units appears to be in the past and while they are still very good weapons (points cost pending), more specialist tools than we’ve seen in the past may be required.

An Example – the Missile Pod

Let’s take a quick gander at Missile Pods (and presumably Autocannons) for example.

They have improved drastically against Terminators as they have AP-1 (so 3+ save if not in cover) and do D3 damage (so are potentially punching through that 2W in one shot). Against your general MEQ they have stayed the same due to AP-1 and are now wounding on 3+ instead of 2+. Throw in cover and they are worse though (which we will talk about in the cover section). Let’s look at a couple of vehicles against the missile pod:

 Missile Pod To Wound Armor Save Damage  Total Shots at 4+ To Hit to Attrition with Cover

Total Shots at 4+ To Hit to Attrition without Cover

Dreadnought
7th edition 5’s to Glance 4+ cover or nothing 3 Hull Points 24 (12 missile pods) 12 (6 missile pods)
8th edition 4+ 4+ save, 3+ with cover 4×2 wounds 48 (24 missile pods) 32 (16 missile pods)
Starweaver
7th edition 3’s to Glance 4+ cover or 5++ 2 Hull Points 12 (6 missile pods) 9 (4.5 missile pods)
8th edition 3+ 5+ save, 4+ with cover 3×2 wounds 18 (9 missile pods) 14 (7 missile pods)
Leman Russ
7th edition AV14 immune; 6’s to Glance AV13 4+ cover or nothing 3 Hull Points 72 (36 missile pods) 36 (18 missile pods)
8th edition 5+ 4+ save, 3+ with cover 6×2 wounds 72 (36 missile pods) 112 (56 missile pods)

I’m not including Explodes results here so the total shots needed for 7th edition is a little less on average. Right off the bat though we see it’s easier to put damage on vehicles with a medium strength rate of fire weapon but there’s more damage to take off with the move away form Hull Points to actual Wounds. Although the S7/AP-1/D3D (D3 damage) weapon is pretty useful against a wide variety of targets, it’s not where nearly as useful as it was before across the same variety of targets. A Heavy Bolter single shot has the exact same damage ratio against a Leman Russ for example while a Lascannon could still one shot a Starweaver.

Armor Penetration (AP) and Cover

A vastly different system to the all or nothing we had before, this in combination with cover providing benefits to your base save have a very interesting interaction. Previously, low AP weapons were often wasted against low armor models (5+ etc.) – their cover save was often better anyway and your points were being spent inefficiently. Conversely against high armor saves (3+ etc.), low AP weapons could chew through more expensive models quickly, even with cover, comparatively to their standard save and points cost (i.e. a Guardsman with 4+ cover at 6 points compared to a Terminator with a 4+ cover at 40 points against a Plasma Gun). The same still largely applies – weapons with a larger AP modifier (say -3 AP) will have wasted AP against a 5+ model (taking it essentially to an 8+ save) but still reduce a 2+ save to 5+; however, the change in cover vastly changes this in many circumstances. If we take the same example, a 5+ save with a +1 modifier from cover still gets no save from a -3 AP weapon while a 2+ save model would get a 4+. No longer are your really powerful shots bouncing off twigs and leaves and the like when cover is available but rather punching through them for weaker models or still minimising the best save available for more durable models.

On the flip side, a lot more weapons are reducing some of the really durable armors out there like Terminators and Space Marines. Humble Heavy Bolters are making Marines save on a 4+ and Terminators a 3+ if they don’t have cover. This makes cover really important for both weaker models (still getting a save, potentially quite similar to what their natural save is) and stronger models to be able to use the armor save they are paying for. Cover for some previous models was completely and utterly unnecessary (looking at you Screamerstars, TH/SS Terminators, Command Bike Squads with SS, etc.) and now is something that potentially all units will need to consider. We haven’t seen any invulnerable saves better than 4++ yet so that 3++ may not exist anymore. The Missile Pod Terminator example goes out with window if the Terminator has some sort of cover save to cancel out the AP-1.

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Combining this with the above and we are getting a wider range of effective weapon performance but there will still be particular weapons which excel in particular areas. Again, a Missile Pod is going to be annoying effective for what they are against Terminators in the open but wasteful against Terminators in cover while Melta weapons are a good weapon in both scenarios with AP-4 but still overkill against a lowly Guardsman.

Throw in split fire for everything and your army is going to be much more efficient if you make the right decisions – both in the list building phase and on the tabletop.

Blast / Templates / Explosives

This is probably one of the biggest weapon changes seen to date and we’ve looked at in detail with pretty pictures already. Without area of effect type weapons, positioning within units is vastly, vastly less important. While unit positioning and movement will still be essential to good strategy and tactics, internally to a unit no longer do we need to worry about spreading our models out with finite 2″ coherency or protecting special weapons / characters, etc. The edge of your units is going to be more much more important than their juicy insides. Keep in mind though, exposing important models such as a Sarge or special weapon, may still give the opponent opportunities to pinpoint them in combat depending how wound allocation works.

Amusingly enough, the end result of these changes will see Flamers as excellent weapons against small units or single models where wounds will get stacked where they were horrendous in this role previous editions.

Damage

A further wrinkle in the fold though is the new damage mechanic. No longer do weapons just do one wound, some of the more powerful ones do up to D6 damage and others have set damage (often 1 but up to 6). This will make weapon target priority even more important. While a Lascannon might completely remove the save of a Guardsman in cover or reduce a Space Marine in cover to a 5+ save, it is wasting a lot of wound potential. Against a Crisis Suit or Terminator, not only is it still reducing their armor save but also likely chewing through all their wounds outright (we await the verdict if Crisis Suits have gained wounds…). The Lascannon could also take a whole chunk out of a Dreadnought / Leman Russ or get lucky and one shot a lighter vehicle like the Starweaver. Of course on the flipside, you could roll a 1 and question why you took one lousy wound off a Starweaver when you could have dropped that Marine over there…

The damage mechanic will therefore be an important thing to consider along with the new wounding system, rate of fire, AP and cover. Lots of information to hold and rough calculations to know to ensure your army is utilising its ability to split fire and create generalist units to its peak efficiency.

Conclusions

As has been said many times in this post, I expect to see a lot more weapon variety. Heavy Bolters off the cusp, seem rather good and how often did we see them as options that were paid for (quietly pushes the Dakka Pred into corner)? Vehicles are also going to be a much bigger thing and while everything is able to poke at them with varying degrees of effectiveness, the right weapon is going to do the job quickly but not as quickly in 6th / 7th edition. We did not even talk about combi weapons or the changes to twin-linking, both of which offer certain armies a lot more firepower. Space Marines and Chaos Space Marines for example have a large amount of access to combi-weapons so are effectively able to get an extra special weapon in squads while armies with better To Hit scores are singing with double their twin-linked shots (and poor Orks are crying unless their rate of fire went up).

All in all this is going to offer more flexibility in list building and subsequent smart application of it on the tabletop. More variety and more tactical decisions are good for gameplay – both competitive and fluffy.

~Sound off in the comments below with your thoughts and what weapons you are looking to dust off in 8th edition.

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