If it doesn’t come standard on a vehicle, why bother to take a Lascannon for Space Marines? Let’s chat.
There was a time when squads of Lascannon/Plasma Space Marines would run amok on the tabletop. Even Razorbacks would join in an run the Las/Plas combo. But looking at the current state of the Space Marine Armoury, Lascannons have taken a massive backseat as a weapon option. Why did it happen? It all points to the rise of Primaris Marines and the Stalker Bolt Rifle.
Now, Abe did a pretty good job encapsulating the Rise of the Stalker Bolt Rifle. So I’m not going to re-hash that. No, we’re going to look at the Stalker Bolt Rifle vs the Lascannon from a different angle: The Points and Stats of each.
For starters, let’s just look at the straight-up stats of each weapon:
The Stalker Bolt Rifle got a nice boost when it went to Damage 2, something I suggested when I compared a handful of the Bolter weapons against each other.
The Lascannon on the other hand, still has it’s classic profile:
Now, how about the points cost for each? The Stalker Bolt Rifle current costs ZERO points for a Space Marine Intercessor (who has a base cost of 17 points). On the flip side, the Lascannon costs 25 points no matter what platform it’s on.
Now for the sake of keeping things as similar as possible, we’re going to compare them based on infantry who can use them. So, we’re going to compare a Devastator Squad with Lascannons vs an Intercessor Squad with Stalker Bolt Rifles. I want to fully admit even this is a little bit busted because one is a Troop and the other is a Heavy Support option, but it’s as close as we can get.
A squad of Devastators with 4 Lascannons will cost a minimum of 165 points – that’s 4 marines, a sergeant and 4 lascannons (they cost 13 points each and we didn’t buy any other upgrades). An Intercessor Squad costs 170 for 10 Intercessors with Stalker bolt Rifles. Points wise, that’s pretty close with only a 5 point difference. So what does that 5 points buy you? Both squads have a 3+ save. But the Devastators only have 5 wounds while the Intercessors have 20 wounds. That’s a 4x kicker! That means the Intercessors are 4 times harder to kill AND every two wounds drop their damage, but not as much as when you start lopping off lascannons.
Damage-wise, the Intercessors are able to do 20 damage if all ten hits and wounds. The Devastators can do 4D6 worth of damage, plus the sergeant’s bolter. So that’s a minimum of 5 damage with a max of 25 damage (if you rolled all 6s for the Lascannons). That’s only a 5 damage swing.
Now, what happens if we mix in some Combat Doctrines from, I don’t know, Imperial Fists?
So let’s pretend in this situation both squads are firing at a Knight. The Devastator Doctrine is up. Which means both weapons have an addition Rend. Thanks to Legacy of Dorn, those Stalkers are now AP -3 and Damage 3. Oh and they can get additional hits on 6s. The Lascannons are still scary at AP -4 and 1+D6 Damage. But there are only 4 of those vs the 10 Stalker Bolt Rifles. If you’re the Knight Player, which squad would you want shooting at you?
Plus they are Marines which means they have tons of ways to get re-rolls to both hits and wounds. And, well, you get the idea. Or what if it’s not a Knight? What if it’s a lighter toughness vehicle? That gets even worse.
The Lascannon Problem
Lascannons on infantry are just too expensive and their damage is just too random. That D6 damage could be 4, 5, or 6 – but it could also be 1, 2 or 3. That is very worrying for players who are focused on getting the most consistent and reliable damage output possible. Stalker Bolt Rifles, comparatively, are just too consistent vs Lascannons for “only” 5 more points.
I’m not calling for the Stalker Bolt Rifles to get a points increase. I’m calling for Lascannons to get some freaking HELP! We’ve seen rules where the damage from weapons has a floor – like 1s or 2s counting as 3. Why don’t Lascannons have that? Or what about making them 2D3 damage? Or what about making have their own modifier on their damage stat so they are 3+D3 damage?
And by the way, the same argument could be said for Multimeltas. Why can’t they get a damage boost to their minimums to make more viable? Would anyone have a problem if Multimeltas became more consistent and did 3+D3 damage when they were within 12″? It would actually make those weapons worth looking at – and that’s my point.
So what do you think? Does GW need to tweak the stats of classic Heavy Weapons to make them viable in the current meta or should we all just play with Primaris Marines?