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40K The Biggest Loser: Astra Miliatrium Weapons Edition

6 Minute Read
Nov 6 2018
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Every edition has its winners and losers. Today lets take a lot of some Astra Militarum Weapons that have lost big since the start of the 8th and see which one is the biggest loser of them all.

Units and weapons go up and down in popularity all the time. Sometimes a Codex or Edition can make a weapon or unit super powerful and popular, other times it can make it next to useless. 8th Edition saw some of the most significant changes to the game in since 2nd ended. Even now, almost a year and a half in we are still figuring out some of the ways this affected the game.  In particular, the changes to both unit and weapon stat lines had a significant effect on which weapons are good and which are bad. Today lets take a look at some Astra… dang it, I’m calling them Imperial Guard for this article, weapons that lost out this edition.

The Rules: we’ll look at three weapons that are the big loser this edition, and at the end, you can help us decide which is the biggest loser of them all. 


But first, the winner, err, loser (?) of last time. Last time out three contestants was the Bolter, Powerfist, and Melta bomb. The opinions in the comment section were heavily divided with both the bolter and melta bomb getting a lot of arguments for why they lost most. Now overall I think changes to how good the bolter is hurt the Space Marines as a faction the most. However, overall I think the melta bomb takes the cake as the biggest loser. While both the bolter and power fist lost big, you still see them used often. Melta Bombs, on the other hand, have almost completely disappeared, and I’m not sure I’ve every seen one used in 8th.

WINNER (loser)

Anyway, on to this week’s contestants! Welcome to the Astra Militarum Soldier!

Plasma Cannons


Plasma Cannons used to be a pretty deadly weapon for the Imperial Guard units that could take them.  Though rare, they could be taken by some heavy tanks and Sentinels, providing a bit of heavy anti-infantry firepower. In editions where templates scattered, they were particular good for the IG as they help compensate for poor BS. Also as a vehicle-mounted weapon, they ignored overheating rules.

Like most template weapons 8th was a big blow to plasma cannons. Getting random D3 shots significantly impacted their ability to deal damage. However, a couple of things hurt the Plasma Cannon as used by the IG.  The change from scattering to using straight BS meant that the old template weapon was just as inaccurate as any other IG weapon now. Sentinels, as all walkers did, also used to ignore any penalties to moving and firing Plasma Cannons; that’s gone now. Even Leman Russes take a -1 to move and fire with them. For supposedly mobile walkers, this makes the weapon very inaccurate. Even worse, vehicles used to ignore overheating, which has also been removed. Now a Sentinel that overheats is destroyed entirely, and a Russ is crippled making it pretty much never a good choice.

Battle Cannons

For editions, Battle Cannons were the kings of the battlefield. The ultimate in mainline Imperial Guard weaponry, they dominated many a game. A single well placed shot could wipe out whole units, or destroy a mid-light tank. Entire generations of players learned to space out their models as widely as possible due to these deadly guns. Whole games revolved around how quickly you could silence the one or two of these that the enemy had brought to the tabletop.


The battle cannon suffers from many of the same issues that the plasma cannon does. Changes to how old template weapons work have hurt their effectiveness across the board, with the d6 shots of a battle cannon being even more random and unreliable than the d3 of a Plasma Cannon. Changes to AP have also hurt Battle Cannons. Where MEQs used to get no save verses them, they now get a 5+, leading to 1/3 fewer casualties.  The removal of instant death, also means that Battle Cannons don’t auto-kill T4 or T3 characters, not that they can even hit them anymore, making them even less effective there. Nor are they a real threat to tanks now. In prior editions, a Battle Cannon might not have been able to kill a Land Raider, but it would have a pretty decent shot at kill say a Rhino, now that’s almost impossible. The fact is that GW allowed Battle Cannons to fire twice, to re-roll their number of shots, and ignore the move and shot modifier and you still don’t see them much.



(Another cannon? Maybe this should have been cannon edition!)  Lascannons have been the ultimately in long-range anti-tank weaponry for quite some time now. Powerful and deadly, they could be mounted on tanks or carried by infantry. For the generally weak Imperial Infantry squad, they were the best chance for any given infantry squad to have a significant effect on a game, especially in the first few turns. Often people took Infantry Squads so that they could get more Lascannons. While they might not have hit often, many times one hit was all you needed to destroy or disable an enemy tank.

Like template weapons, anti-tank weapons have also taken a big hit in 8th. Where once they could destroy a tank with a single shot, that’s now generally impossible. Unlike many other weapons, lascnnons didn’t get any short of buff or bonus out of the edition, going from tank killers to tank scratchers. This is particularly bad for the Imperial Guard. Their low BS means they weren’t hitting with Lascannons often; normally they counted on one or two hits being enough to take out a tank. In 8th that’s not going to happen. Most tanks are going to take repeated hits, and wounds, to take them down. Couple that with a lot of negative modifiers making them hit even less, and a high cost and it’s no surprise many IG players are ditching lascnnons. You’re much more likely to find an infantry squad with no upgrades than one with a lascannon these days.


So which is the “Biggest Loser”?

All of these weapons have lost effectiveness due to 8th changes. All of these weapons have slowly faded from competitive lists, and generally only show up when they are not optional.  So take a look at these three, and then head down to the comments and let us know which you think has come off the worst in 8th Edition, we’ll let you know the winner, (err loser?) next time!

Let Us Know Which Weapon You Think Was The Biggest Loser, Down In The Comments!               

Author: Abe Apfel
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