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40K: “Explosive” Weapons, We Have A Problem

5 Minute Read
Aug 15
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Weapons formerly known as “Blast Templates” have a problem. Let’s talk about this “explosive” issue.

When Warhammer 40,000 8th edition dropped, everyone was pretty excited about the changes – in fact, we still are! The game is a ton of fun and it’s been a pretty wild ride so far. We’re all enjoying rediscovering new units and old, new strategies, and new entertaining ways to enjoy the game again. It’s a BLAST! Except for weapons formerly known as “Blast” …those aren’t doing so hot.

Blasts Just Aren’t What They Used To Be

So what’s the problem these new “explosive” weapons? The simple fact is that they don’t do enough damage. Let me clarify – the damage stat is fine, it’s the number of “Hits” these weapons generate. They suffer from a similar problem as the “Swingy Lascannon” in that they can spike really high or you can just roll a whiff. But their issue is actually worse because you’re rolling for the number of shots vs the amount of damage it does.

Let’s talk about a typical “Explosive Weapon” like the Vindicator’s Demolisher Cannon for a moment.

On paper this seems like a pretty solid weapon. But in practice, when you’re shooting a unit of infantry (something blast weapons used to be perfect for hitting) if they are a small unit they have a pretty good chance of not really taking a ton of damage – or “hits” as we pointed out earlier. It’s an odd mechanic that you have to roll the number of shots for an “Explosion” weapon. Thematically, shouldn’t this just be a large BOOM that hits a point and impacts all the things around it? Mechanically, I see that the goal was to randomize the number of hit that this weapon generated. I see what they are doing. And it works…but why doesn’t it scale better?

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If you’re shooing a small unit of less than 5, a D3 seems appropriate. If you’re shooting a unit of 5-10, a D6 seems like a good fit, but what about 15, or 20? Do we just add a D3 to the number of possible shots? Maybe. But maybe the problem is the fact that we’re trying to generate a random number of hits vs smoothing that curve.

Let’s Just Use Templates, Right? NO.

Before we get into some options for fixes, I just want to point out I actually don’t want to see the return of the Template. Why? Because it slowed the game down on both sides of the blast. The person using the Blast would want to make sure they could cover the maximum number of models, then you had to roll the scatter and hope you didn’t miss, then you had to make sure you weren’t suffering from a parallax error when the measuring tape…and that always led to an argument. It was clunky and not fun. On the other side, you had players taking forever in the movement phase spacing out 40 models in a unit EXACTLY 2″ apart to avoid blast templates. That was tedious and boring. Most of the time, Small blasts would hit a model or two, maybe clipping a third.

Bye Templates. You make good frisbees.

With Large Blasts, you’d typically get 2-3 models and clip a few more. Occasionally you’d get an awesome shot and nail like 8 models and it was glorious! But then the rest of the game your opponent would space out all their models and you’d run out of time. Maybe that’s just my experience with the template system. Whatever side of the coin you were on, it had it’s issues…so NO, I do not want to go back to that system.

Fixing The Blast Weapons

Our issue stems from the fact that Blast Weapons randomize their hits, right? So how can we make that part of the problem better? Here are a couple of ideas we have been bouncing around:

Option 1: Increase the shots per 5 Models in the unit.

Now, this isn’t unprecedented. The Leviathan Dreadnought has one of the best examples we found of how these weapons could scale properly

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The part we’re most interested in is the last sentence: For every 5 models in the target unit, add D3 to the number of attacks made by this weapon. It’s simple and those shots still have to hit – but it represents the fact that there are more targets to hit pretty well. We like this option quite a bit!

Option 2: Double the “Hits” caused.

Take the Demolisher Cannon from above. Replace the special rule with “double the number of successful hits when attacking a unit with 5 or more models.” This means, that if you roll 1 hit, you’d get 2 on a larger unit. If you rolled 3 successful hits, you’d get a total of 6 hits. You’ve already “hit” them, now you just roll to wound and apply damage. This is similar to just rolling 2D3 shots – the difference is that you don’t have to roll the number of shots and then also HIT with each one, you’re only making 1-3 hit rolls and doubling those hits. The possible damage goes up and it helps to flatten out that swing-factor.

Option 3: Make “Blasts” Auto-Hit.

If “Flamer” weapons get to Auto-Hit, why didn’t blasts weapons? I mean, we are talking about EXPLOSIONS – you’re either caught in the blast or you’re not, which is represented by the number of random hits generated on the unit. Now, we’re not actually huge fans of this blanket fix. These weapons suddenly become SUPER accurate and deadly. Think about Leman Russ Battle Tanks not needing to roll to hit with their Battle Cannons…at 72″. That just doesn’t sit right. If these weapons did Auto-Hit, it would take a lot of rebalancing to make them appropriate in the game. You’d also have to take into account their weapon platforms (aka Vehicles) which also got a ton of buffs this edition. Taken as a whole, Auto-Hit Blasts seems pretty over powered.

Options 4: Blasts are fine.

The last option is to just leave them alone. If you think this is the way to go, good news – this is the way it is! But look around the tables next time you’re playing at an event or game night and see how many folks are excited about their “Blast” Weapons shooting…

 

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So what do you think about weapons formerly known as Blast? Are they working fine or do you think they need a tweak? What tweak would you make to them?

Note: Not all Explosive Weapons are exactly the same – it would require going over each one on a case-by-case basis to see what tweaks needed to be made.

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