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Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Analysis: Astra Militarum in 8th Ed, Heavy Weapons

Up next on the review agenda are the heavy weapons available to the Astra Militarum.


In this post we'll review all the Astra heavy weapons, including those typically seen on Infantry:

  • Autocannon
  • Missile Launcher
  • Mortar
Those seen on Leman Russes:

  • Multi-Melta
  • Plasma Cannon
And those available to both:

  • Heavy Bolter
  • Heavy Flamer
  • Lascannon


As per the previous posts on Leman Russ and special weapons...

We evaluate these weapons against five sets of defensive profiles to represent common targets:

  • T3/W1/Sv5+ representing light infantry, such as Imperial Guardsmen
  • T4/W1/Sv3+ representing medium infantry, such as Space Marines
  • T4/W2/Sv3+ representing multi-wound medium infantry, such as Primaris Space Marines
  • T7/Sv3+ representing medium armour, such as most Imperial, Chaos, Eldar and Tau vehicles
  • T8/Sv3+ representing heavy armour, such as some Imperial, Chaos and Necron vehicles
  • We can interpolate weapon performance against most other targets based on this set.
We assume that the infantry have unlimited model count so that number of shots is not a constraint, and that the vehicles have unlimited wounds so that damage is not a constraint.

Note that the most interesting offensive stat is strength, and the most interesting defensive stat is toughness, since the S vs. T relationship is not linear in 8th Ed. The number of wounds a target has is another interesting defensive stat, since causing multiple damage from a single failed save does not cause extra wounds to 'carry over' to other members of a unit, so having a low number of wounds actually makes high-damage weapons less effective. In contrast, changing the number of shots or AP of a weapon, or the Sv of a target, results in very predictable and linear changes to weapon effectiveness.


Running the numbers provides the following results for BS4+ and BS3+ gunners:

Note that I have used the expected value for D3/D6 rolls:

  • D3 = 2
  • D6 = 3.5
  • 2D6 pick highest = 4.5
The colour-coding is a vertical heat-map, which indicates the effectiveness of weapons against targets; in other words, a green box indicates which weapon is best against that target, not which target that weapon is best used against.


So what does this mathhammer actually tell us?

  • The Heavy Flamer is an excellent heavy weapon against Infantry, and is not terrible against Vehicles either
  • The Heavy Bolter isn't great, but it's still better than the other anti-Infantry options
  • The Plasma Cannon is only slightly better than the Heavy Bolter at double the cost, and Overcharging is just too risky for tanks
  • The Multi-Melta is great against Vehicles, and the Lascannon isn't much worse, but the Krak Missile is pretty bad for the same cost
  • The Frag Missile and Mortar are both bad, but at least the Mortar is very cheap
  • The once-mighty Autocannon is just bad in 8th Ed
Just like Plasma Guns, the Heavy Flamer is the clear best choice for any unit that can take one, especially if the unit is fast and has mediocre or bad BS—I'm looking at you, Punishers and Demolishers!

Some Lascannon wouldn't go amiss in a well-rounded list, but finding appropriate units to take them might be challenging—I think we'll need to wait for Forge World to release the rules for the Vendetta. Otherwise it'll be Veteran Squads on foot for the improved BS and ablative wounds.

If you are taking Heavy Weapon Squads, then the Heavy Bolter is probably their best option, since they are just too fragile to justify Lascannon. I've seen some clamour online for spamming super-cheap Mortar squads, but take another look at the table—they really do sweet fuck-all.


Well, that was nice and simple. Heavy Flamers are great against Infantry, Lascannon are good against Vehicles, Heavy Bolters are better than nothing. Leave the rest at home.

With our weapon options covered, next I'll be looking at some of the star units and their optimal configurations.


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