Wednesday, 19 September 2012

The Problem with Strength D

The gun that can do anything...
With an apocalypse game approaching I was discussing the subject with the local GW manager, and he expressed a bit of a dislike for apoc (I consider him a friend so won't be grassing him up :oP) as he says it's too easy to break the game just by taking lot's of Strength D weapons. And he does have a point. I have made the claim before that the amount of super heavies you have isn't nearly as telling as the amount of Str D you have. I once played a game where my five super heavies took on my opponents two... however when it came to Str D he was putting out 5 shots per turn to my 1, and with him holding his supers in reserve and walking them on turn 1 (careful planning strategum) he killed my Str D before it could fire. From then on he was ripping through me with Str D while my Str 8 or 9 shots just bounced off his tanks, or barely scratched them. The combination of Auto Penetrate and the +1 on vehicle damage meant that he was taking structure points off with half his shots, and tearing through my tanks. Now this is what they are for fair enough, but once he'd finished those off, he found they were equally good at annihalating infantry. And THAT I think is the problem with Str D - there is no downside. They're good at everything, the jack of all trade weapon. Why would you take any other gun when this one does everything anyway?

An unfamiliar titan... one with a variety of guns!
This has lead to some rather boring titan loadouts where someone brings out a forgeworld reaver that has two laser destroyer arms and a laser destroyer shoulder weapon, putting out a formidable 8 Str D shots per turn. Now from what I remember of the fluff the titans were usually armed with a variety of weapons to deal with a variety of foes, cos let's face it they aren't the easiest things to swap a gun on. The turbo lasers were for killing enemy titans, but they'd have maybe an apoc launcher for dealing with enemy infantry and a plasma blastgun for tagets that are classed as "in-between." But how often are such varietous loadouts seen on titans? Why bother, when Str D does everything better than the rest anyway?

In discussion, we thought that it might be best to take away the blast rule to make the weapon less effective against infantry. My friend said that in his opinion, the only reason it was blast in the first place was so that it would be better at hitting larger vehicles than small ones - a large blast can feasibly miss an ork truk, a land raider is a harder thing to miss, and a baneblade damn near impossible to miss! So to try to keep that effect in place, I suggested increasing the BS when shooting at larger targets. After all, you can't say that a solitary guardsmen would be as easy to hit as a baneblade. So perhaps +1 BS against vehicles (and monstrous creatures too?) with a further +1 (that stacks) against super heavies and gargantuans. Meaning a Baneblade is still practically impossible to miss, a land raider the odds are you're gonna hit it, while a guardsmen you just fire in roughly the right direction and hope to hit near enough to fry the guy.

Consulting with a friend who actually uses titans (and therefore my theoretical hard sell on this issue) he said that he wouldn't want to see the Str D completely useless against infantry, but could see we had something of a point. He agreed that having to make a tactical decision between the different guns would be more interesting than just taking Str D as it does everything. He came up with the rather good suggestion of two fire modes - focused or dispersed, similar to the Tau Hammerhead shooting mode.

After haggling between the three of us I decided the following would be a good new profile for Str D weapons

focused mode - Str D, NO BLAST, +1 BS against vehicles, +2 against super heavies/gargantuan
dispersed mode - Str7, AP2, Large Blast.

The dispersed mode would still wound most things on 2s, but allows cover saves. It doesn't instant death T4, or disregard FNP for T4. Basically, it'll still kill marines in the open, but if it's a tough unit (Paladins, nob bikers) it won't brutalise them.

I need to look into it a little more to be sure - I believe there may be one or two Str D weapons out there that currently don't have blast (the daemon shell strategic asset springs to mind, though don't quote me on that I need to check) and I don't want to GIVE them an anti infantry capability they aren't designed to have, they can stay as they are. But I may try experimenting with it as a house rule to see how it takes.

There is an upside for the titan lovers... with it no longer being blast, you can potentially snap fire. Those pesky flyers you've been unable to touch? sure they'll be tough to hit... but if you do hit them, bye bye...


  1. I actually quite like this solution, Strength D guns were a bit over powered in my opinion. Thats why my warhound has both a plasma and a turbo laser. Didn't want it to seem too nasty. This helps balance out the four scout weapons quite nicely. With the vulcan mega bolter still being good at dealing with infantry from a distance, and the inferno gun being better at dealing with them close range while denying cover. The plasma blast gun can deal effectively with heavy infantry / medium tanks. Though can also cause concern to heavy tanks with it's one shot. leaving the turbo laser your heavy tank killer, with potential to deal with heavy infantry though not as well as the plasma gun.
    For me this would make it a tough choice on titan loadout. Between the turbo laser, plasma and inferno gun in the least. I think the Vulcan mega bolter is still missing a few things to make it worth while in comparison. I think allowing it to fire twice (as per the super heavy tank rules) when the titan doesn't move would make it viable.

  2. Gotta admit it seems silly that the same gun can fire twice when on a baneblade chassis... now if that was a baneblade rule being put to good effect fair enough but it's the only gun the baneblade can do it with, so where does the ability spring from? I think that would be a fair trade off to make all the scout weapons equally viable.

    Course when it comes to the reaver there's no choice really... do I go with the 2 shot Str D gun or the 3 shot Str D gun... gee, lemme think about that for a few :oP

  3. Next time we play apocalypse. We can try it that way then. Not really a problem with the reaver, the laser destroyer is on an arm mount the turbo laser is on a carapace mount.
    From what i remember of the fluff, the baneblade can divert power from the engines to the mega bolter, no reason why a titan couldn't do the same.

  4. Btw, one of the few non blast D weapons is the Necron pylon, which just has three D shots, which I think is fair, as it's supposed to be a titan killer, not just a whatever-it-shoots-at killer.... It can also fire a 7inch blast, I think, at s8 or something like that

  5. Which actually sounds like a perfectly reasonable balance.