40K: The Lascannon Swing-Factor
Something is slightly off with the iconic Lascannon in the Grim-Dark and it’s because of the “Swing” Factor.
Lascannon. Just the word “Lascannon” creates an image in your mind. No doubt it’s an image of the iconic weapon that calls Warhammer 40,000 it’s home – but perhaps it also triggers a memory for you as well. When I hear the word “Lascannon” I immediately think of one Lascannon wielding Marine in my original Black Templar’s army circa 3rd Edition. That particular marine had a nasty habit of taking a shot at a big vehicle and “one-shotting” it on the first turn.
He was particularly effective vs Monoliths for some reason. Three Games, three shots, three dead monoliths, all on the first turn. It was pure luck – it’s just what happens when you roll dice sometimes. But man… that Lascannon Marine was a legend!
“I thought Black Templar’s Punched Stuff?” Well, yeah…they do that, too!
That was many years ago – so let’s fast forward to now. We’re in 8th Edition and pretty much everything in the game got an overhaul. Particularly the weapon stats. With the weapon changes and the vehicle changes, it’s almost impossible to “one-shot” anything these days, much less completely ignore your save like old Lascannons used to do.
On the surface, it still seems like a great Anti-tank weapon. And for the most part, it is! Long range, high strength, fantastic AP, and a D6 damage. So what gives? Why is it that when I fire off Lascannon shots in 8th, I feel so…underwhelmed?
I blame the Damage stat. The “Swing Factor” as I’ve heard folks put it is just too great. That variance of damage, 1-to-6, is just too off putting. Plus, even if you shoot a Marine with it they still get a 6+ Armor save – and it no longer instant kills on double-toughness! When you take each of those changes on individually, they don’t seem that bad. But when you combine them all, it suddenly feels like Lascannons just aren’t the same any more…
Now, I’m not be-moaning the changes in 8th. I actually LIKE that vehicles don’t get killed in a single shot any more. I LIKE that insta-death is gone now. I even appreciate the random 6+ save that a Marine can get vs an AP -3 weapon. It’s that random damage that seems to throw me off. The Swing-Factor is a problem with the Lascannon and it’s the damage stat’s fault.
Simple Problem, Simple Solution
The issue really boils down to the damage stat, right? So how do we fix it so that Lascannons are a bit more consistent but still not an auto include? Let’s try out some fixes and see what sticks.
- 2D6 Damage – Whoa. That makes your minimum damage 2 and your max damage 12. Uh, if D6 was considered to much of a “Swing Factor” then what do you want to call this one? Let’s go with “Wrong” for starters. However, I do like the minimum damage idea.
- D6+1 Damage – this certainly adds some consistency. The Lascannon can no longer do less than 2 damage but it now has a higher ceiling of 7 damage. That might be a tad too strong.
- D3+1 Damage – Same consistency fix, but now we’ve gone in the opposite direction and lowered the damage ceiling to 4. That still doesn’t feel quite right, either.
- 2D3 Damage – DING! We have a winner! Your minimum damage is now 2 and your max is still 6. The Lascannon has the same damage ceiling but now has the floor raised.
The more I think about the 2D3 damage change to Lascannons, the more I like it. I don’t know if it will catch-on but it makes a ton of sense in my mind. If you’ve ever rolled a 1 on that damage stat you know exactly what I’m talking about. Lascannons shouldn’t be that weak. Lascannons should be more consistent damage. At the same time, doing 6 damage to a target in one shot is quite a bit! I don’t think the Lascannons need to do MORE damage, they need a more consistent damage curve and 2D3 solves that problem.
What do you think of Lascannons in 8th? Do you like how they work now or would you like to see that “Swing Factor” toned down a bit?