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Warhammer 40K: The Craziest Rogue Trader Weapons GW Ever Made

4 Minute Read
Sep 26 2022

Today we head back to Rogue Trader and 1992 to see some of the Grimdark’s craziest weapons.

Rogue Trader was a time of utter creativity for GW. Everything was new, and it seemed like almost everything was tried. From Willpower stats to clear plastic sheets and interior vehicle blueprints for shooting – they tried all kinds of stuff.

But when it came to weapons, Nottingham set their brains on overdrive.

Here are just a handful of the nuttiest and most memorable weapons from the days of yore. All of these come from the Warhammer 40,000 Battle Manual (1992)

Assault Cannon

Once upon a time, the AC was the dread of xenos. With its Following fire dice, it could pump out dice roll after roll of shots each turn based on how much of a gambler you were. Right up until you got too greedy and blew yourself up with a catastrophic jam. It was a classic “push your luck” rule mechanic. Oh well – no risk, no reward.

Harlequin’s Kiss

The Harlequin’s Kiss is now just a fancy melee weapon. But it has a particularly sinister origin story. Its “Kiss of Evil” name is well deserved and you could try it out about anything – including tanks.  Back in Rogue Trader, you could throw caution to the wind and go for it. I still remember my college friend back in the day with a giant grin as his Troupe Master withdrew his Harlequin’s Kiss from my now dead and crewless Land Raider!


Heavy Flamer

Don’t you just hate having to set tough targets on fire turn after turn in modern 40K until they die? Well back in Rogue Trader, the Heavy Flamer made sure they STAYED ON FIRE. Look at the fantastic “Fire Test Chart” that kept the bad guys running around screaming. Just remember – STOP, DROP & ROLL! The being dead part really helps in that department.

Virus Grenade

You are now into the semi-legendary category of 40K weapons. The Virus Grenade could – in theory – destroy an entire army singlehandedly. Take a close gander at the rules. Yes, you are reading it right. A radius effect weapon that sets off a new death AOE each time a model dies – forever! I believe my personal record was 86 Orks dead with one Virus Grenade. It did take about 15 minutes to resolve. But I still remember it 30 years later, so that’s how good it was!

Shuriken Shrieker Cannon

If you thought the Harlequin’s Kiss was mean – you haven’t seen anything. Behold perhaps one of the most horrific weapons of the Grimdark. Of course, it’s used only by Death Jesters. Some notes – A victim of the special Shrieker rounds doesn’t die right away. He’s going to take a few turns randomly careening around the board screaming hysterically – until he explodes! While he’s doing this, he is understandably causing rout checks to all nearby units – that is, if they aren’t killed by the fragment of his body when the end finally comes. Clowns are frakin jerks!

Cyclone Missile Launcher

Nowadays, Cyclones are just 2-shot missile launchers. Oh, how the mighty have fallen. Back in the day, the feared Cyclone held 12 missiles, and you had to keep track. Each turn you could fire off one – or ALL THE REST! It was awesome, and you could blow away just about anything.


But… (in Rogue Trader, there was always a but for extra deadly weapons)

If you got shot, there was that little bit about maybe having all your missiles cook-off in a mighty display. There was even a handy mishap chart down there to see just how bad it could be. Hit the deck soldier!

The Vehicle Targeting Grid

Not a weapon, but we had to save this bonus bit of nuttiness for last. Back in Rogue Trader GW went through a period of using cross-sections of vehicles during the damaging process. You would take this clear plastic grid (below), place it anywhere you wanted on the target vehicle cross-section (also below), roll some dice to see how much it deviated in each X and Y axis, and go from there. A truly unique system, they never returned to in 30 years.

~Which one of these crazy rules is your favorite?


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