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How to balance plasma, Grav and melta ideas?


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Posted (edited)

As the title suggests, I was chatting with some mates after a local RTT about how to better balance melta and plasma weapons for space marines, as the general view was that melta is better for most things most of the time (whereas plasma used to be a better anti heavy infantry choice that was also good for anti-tank). I'd love to hear all your ideas.

 

Ideas / points that we discussed included:

 

1. Plasma already have a range advantage, but allowing rapid fire plasma to rapid fire at full distance if the model didn't move (ala bolters) would help.

2. Whilst highly unlikely, given that GW has moved strongly towards points increments of 5, points differences between melta and plasma guns.

3. Making plasma do mortal wounds on a natural 1, instead of killing infantry.

4. Making plasma go up 1S but also improve AP by 1 when overcharging

5. Make plasma base damage 2 (instead of 1), so combi-plasma is 2 damage, 3 on overcharge, assault plasma 2/3 etc. Basically bump up damage profile of all plasma weapons by 1.

6. Increase base rate of fire by 1, so combi-plasma are rapid fire 2, assault plasma on hell-blasters assault 4.  

7. Increase the range of plasma 

8. Give "heavy" plasma "splash damage" when a model is killed

 

Personally I liked 1, 4 and 5 (but not all together), but interested in all your thought on the above and any other ideas :smile.:

 

Edit to add: we also chatted about grav weapons, and one really cool idea that an old-school Iron Hand player came up with was a special rule that where the 2 damage effect is triggered (so the target has a 3+ or better), that wound saves can't be re-rolled, to reflect how Grav weapons love to crunch hefty targets. I thought that was nifty :D

Edited by XeonDragon
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If you're talking about Heavy weapons the Grav Cannon doesn't need a boost compared to the Plasma Cannon, it's already a better weapon. D2 on basically everything that matters risk-free, base four shots balances out the difference in Strength on most targets, and it's cheaper besides.

 

I think the Multimelta is actually properly pointed versus the Grav Cannon, in that if I had a choice between a single Multimelta and a Twin Linked Grav Cannon that would be a tough call.

 

Now if the Grav Cannon and Multimelta are properly costed then the Heavy Bolter, Plasma Cannon, Lascannon, and Missile Launcher all need serious adjustment.

 

I haven't thought so much about the balance on Special Weapons, I don't use any of them if I have a choice. The Flamer and Meltagun kind of ok on units like Centurions and Aggressors that can take them en masse and want to be in melee anyway, but none of them are worth taking otherwise. Theoretically I'd at least think about Gravguns on Centurions if they had the option but Plasma guns are a complete non-starter there.

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Sorry, I should have note the discussion was mainly combi-plasma, plasma on hellblasters, inceptors vs combi-melta, Eradicators and MM on infantry. I agree that the Grav cannon and MM are well priced and appear balanced. General consensus was las cannons and missile launchers are just rotten at the moment, but if you have ideas on how to balance those that would be awesome :)

 

I think your points about the plasma cannon are good ones - I would add the variable shots is a negative on balance, which is why (in my experience) devastators are basically only ever grav cannons or multi-meltas. 

 

If you're talking about Heavy weapons the Grav Cannon doesn't need a boost compared to the Plasma Cannon, it's already a better weapon. D2 on basically everything that matters risk-free, base four shots balances out the difference in Strength on most targets, and it's cheaper besides.

I think the Multimelta is actually properly pointed versus the Grav Cannon, in that if I had a choice between a single Multimelta and a Twin Linked Grav Cannon that would be a tough call.

Now if the Grav Cannon and Multimelta are properly costed then the Heavy Bolter, Plasma Cannon, Lascannon, and Missile Launcher all need serious adjustment.

I haven't thought so much about the balance on Special Weapons, I don't use any of them if I have a choice. The Flamer and Meltagun kind of ok on units like Centurions and Aggressors that can take them en masse and want to be in melee anyway, but none of them are worth taking otherwise. Theoretically I'd at least think about Gravguns on Centurions if they had the option but Plasma guns are a complete non-starter there.

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1. All Rapid Fire weapons for Marines should get the Bolter Discipline treatment - so agreed

2. Yeah moving to 5 pts to make math easier is just dumb, yes people are capable of doing math, and no it actually doesn't change how easy it is.

3. Agreed, make Plasma overcharge consistent cross all models, just make it cause a Mortal wound, this way I can roll all overcharged plasma from the same squad of Assault Plasma Incinerators.

4. I don't think the extra AP is needed here, you already got Strength and Damage

5. I disagree with increasing the base damage across the board, I love the Heavier versions got that already that was a good move to help differentiate, but that would just negate the whole point of making the decision to overcharge.

6. Again I disagree, especially if you do number 1 the extra shots on a predominately Rapid Fire weapon will be fine

7. What would that do? Base Plasma is already longer range than the Melta version, and in the terrain heavy environment Range doesn't go too far.

8. This might be interesting, but I would need to see what is come up with to do it.

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1. All Rapid Fire weapons for Marines should get the Bolter Discipline treatment - so agreed

2. Yeah moving to 5 pts to make math easier is just dumb, yes people are capable of doing math, and no it actually doesn't change how easy it is.

3. Agreed, make Plasma overcharge consistent cross all models, just make it cause a Mortal wound, this way I can roll all overcharged plasma from the same squad of Assault Plasma Incinerators.

4. I don't think the extra AP is needed here, you already got Strength and Damage

5. I disagree with increasing the base damage across the board, I love the Heavier versions got that already that was a good move to help differentiate, but that would just negate the whole point of making the decision to overcharge.

6. Again I disagree, especially if you do number 1 the extra shots on a predominately Rapid Fire weapon will be fine

7. What would that do? Base Plasma is already longer range than the Melta version, and in the terrain heavy environment Range doesn't go too far.

8. This might be interesting, but I would need to see what is come up with to do it.

In terms of 5 what was discussed is making basic plasma weapons D2, and the heavier ones D3, so 3 and 4 damage on overcharge. Thanks for your responses :)

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Missile Launchers and Lascannons are supposed to have the advantage of range. The problem with 9th edition is that dense terrain tends to limit fire corridors which means that range is a often a moot point.

 

Other factions are starting to give their lascanon-equiv weapons D3+3 damage rather than D6. Maybe missile launchers could be given indirect fire. This has been nerfed somewhat so I don't think giving Marines the ability to indirect fire would be game-breaking.

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Again I would say that generally speaking the damage on Plasma is fine. Increasing the base damage for plasma removes the risk of killing marines. These are anti-elite weapons, not anti-vehicle weapons.
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Posted (edited)

Missile Launchers and Lascannons are supposed to have the advantage of range. The problem with 9th edition is that dense terrain tends to limit fire corridors which means that range is a often a moot point.

 

Other factions are starting to give their lascanon-equiv weapons D3+3 damage rather than D6. Maybe missile launchers could be given indirect fire. This has been nerfed somewhat so I don't think giving Marines the ability to indirect fire would be game-breaking.

For Lascannons, d6 (minimum 3) would be solid enough and not increase overall lethality. AP-3 is an odd breakpoint: for some things (like Armour of Contempt) it's important to punch through, but a lot of stuff now just has a strong invulnerable save. S9 is similarly weakened by further proliferation of Transhuman effects. Not sure there's an easy fix except by making them a touch cheaper, maybe 12-15pts.

 

For Missile Launchers, we can remove the versatility tax for starters. Their Frag option is in no way effective enough to make them cost the same as Lascannons. We could go budget for MLs: keep their profiles as is but drop their costs way down to like 5pts or something. If we did that, they could be viable en masse or as supplementary options - at their current cost there's never a reason to not choose the superior Lascannon or Multimelta.

Edited by Kallas
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Missile Launchers and Lascannons are supposed to have the advantage of range. The problem with 9th edition is that dense terrain tends to limit fire corridors which means that range is a often a moot point

I figured this would come up, and I'm of the opinion that 48" range does have some value.

 

I'm currently bringing a Lascannon and Missile Launcher Ven Dread and Lascannons on one of my three Centurion Devastators, being able to take those cross-table potshots pays off most of the time. I just think the point of diminishing returns is pretty low.

 

The Lascannon should still be a 3+d3 or a d6 min 3 weapon though. Giving the Astartes Missile Launcher the same shot profile as the one on the Impulsor might help things. The Plasma Cannon needs to be a fixed Heavy 3 at a minimum.

 

I think the right answer for Astares Heavy Bolters might be Assault 3. Bring back the Grav Stabilizer rule from back in the day, Marines can fire those things on the move.

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In the context of the original discussion, comparing Plasma to Melta is probably a bad idea in the first place. Meltas are dedicated close-range anti-tank guns and Plasma isn't.

 

Plasma is a tough design space regardless because it's getting double-whammied by paying extra for a flexible profile like the Missile Launcher and by being a high-risk-high-reward design. It needs to hit a fair bit harder than anything else to be worth the risk of killing the bearer on even a basic Marine.

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We could take a hint from other weapons.  Heavy Bolters, Heavy Flamers, Assault Cannons and Lascannons all deal up to 6 damage, but are optimized to have different preferred targets.

 

You could make plasma guns also hit that 6 damage potential.  Maybe with a unmodified 6 to hit causing 1 MW in addition to normal damage on both profile settings.  Maybe put it on the wound roll if it is too big of a buff on the hit roll.

 

That would mean plasma are slightly better vs SM, even when they have extra resistance like Deathguard or transhuman.

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THe only things i would change is to cause MW instead of a dead model. 

Turn down the Palsma INceptor plasma weapon into 2 shots S6-3 AP3 and a bit cheaper.

And make them all just cheaper... I like the current rules so far.

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Missile Launchers and Lascannons are supposed to have the advantage of range. The problem with 9th edition is that dense terrain tends to limit fire corridors which means that range is a often a moot point.

 

Other factions are starting to give their lascanon-equiv weapons D3+3 damage rather than D6. Maybe missile launchers could be given indirect fire. This has been nerfed somewhat so I don't think giving Marines the ability to indirect fire would be game-breaking.

 

Interesting idea. Maybe allows missile launchers to:

 

1. Ignore LOS for a 1CP stratagem or just allow them to fire indirectly as per normal rules and/or

2. Allow missile launchers to target something another SM has LOS with without any penalty? (maybe as a stratagem?)

 

Agree with D3+3 would be good.

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I agree on changing the rule for plasma, when you roll a 1.

However, when rolling 5 ones on 5 different hellblaster, for example. Are they all at 1 wound, or will there be 2 dead, and 1 wounded.

Both is weird at first sight.

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Normally wounds are inflicted on a unit and you have to remove whole models. This is to prevent the headache of trying to track multiple wounded models in one squad also also to stop people from having a squad of Terminators running around and still fighting at full strength despite every squad member being down to 1 wound.

 

I agree that I would love to see overheating plasma just do 1MW to the bearer's unit. This would also make plasma pistols a decent choice for Characters again. At the moment, why would you risk losing a 100+ point character by overcharging their plasma pistol?

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I agree on changing the rule for plasma, when you roll a 1.

However, when rolling 5 ones on 5 different hellblaster, for example. Are they all at 1 wound, or will there be 2 dead, and 1 wounded.

Both is weird at first sight.

1 Mortal Wound would be applied to the unit, so 5 ones would mean 2 dead and 1 at 1 wound remaining.

 

This is because wounds are allocated to models in sequence, and must be allocated to already wounded models (to prevent people spreading them out). The current method of "model is slain" would mean that fast rolling 5 ones = 5 dead; which is where people slow roll to avoid taking unnecessary losses.

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Good thoughts - the weapons do need some differentiation.

 

Plasma dealing mortals is how it should always have been. Even make it 2 mortals, just so the marine still dies, but losing my whole Rhino primaris, mephiston, or a captain to a 1 on a plasma roll is bonkers. 

 

The three need to be siloed into being best at their target unit: melta - slagging a single high value target; plasma - punching through power armour; grav - high effect vs heavy armour, little v lightly armoured. 

 

As we see with Tau, their standard plasma rifle is S8 D3, which is basically what Imperial overcharged plasma should be. Make the basic profile S7 D2, then overcharge for S8D3 with the risk of mortals. The balance here is between plasma damage at 12" vs melta damage at 12". The AP is the key here, so plasma at AP-3, melta at AP-5 (formerly AP1, so nothing ever gets an armour save from it).

 

Grav cannon is a different beast - that's a heavy as opposed to the underperfoming grav gun. Left field idea would be to make it do mortals on hits, which are naturally more detrimental to elite, heavily armoured units while light infantry don't really care. So 2 shots at 24", dealing mortals on hits instead of wounding. This kind of puts it in the damage outplut of plasma at 24", and worse than it at 12". It also ignores invulnerable saves, which plasma doesn't  after all, how is a rosarius going to shield you from gravity? 

 

Optionally make grav a debuff choice, like any unit hit by a grav weapon cannot advance/halves their movement in their next turn. 

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Personally I think plasma when overheated should ignore damage modifiers. I really think dreads and the -1 damage fractions are why plasma isn't more popular. They just feel pointless against armies like deathguard.

 

 

This is great! 

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Personally I think plasma when overheated should ignore damage modifiers. I really think dreads and the -1 damage fractions are why plasma isn't more popular. They just feel pointless against armies like deathguard.

 

This is great! 

 

I'm not a fan of adding in additional special rules to counter existing special rules. This would also mean that the Avatar would take full wounds from plasma, same as the CTan/Gaz, definitely not intended.

 

This involves a ground up rework of the units with -1D, such as giving +1T instead to represent how hard they are to kill. 

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As we see with Tau, their standard plasma rifle is S8 D3, which is basically what Imperial overcharged plasma should be. Make the basic profile S7 D2, then overcharge for S8D3 with the risk of mortals. The balance here is between plasma damage at 12" vs melta damage at 12". The AP is the key here, so plasma at AP-3, melta at AP-5 (formerly AP1, so nothing ever gets an armour save from it).

 

Maybe have Plasma be a little bit weaker on the Standard? So maybe:

Standard: 6 / -3 / 1or2 (personally not sold on 2D for Standard)

Overcharge: 8 / -3 / 3, 1or2, overheat. (Tau Plasma retains power over Imperial Plasma by being safe and higher AP, but has far fewer variations)

 

Grav cannon is a different beast - that's a heavy as opposed to the underperfoming grav gun. Left field idea would be to make it do mortals on hits, which are naturally more detrimental to elite, heavily armoured units while light infantry don't really care. So 2 shots at 24", dealing mortals on hits instead of wounding. This kind of puts it in the damage outplut of plasma at 24", and worse than it at 12". It also ignores invulnerable saves, which plasma doesn't  after all, how is a rosarius going to shield you from gravity? 

 

Optionally make grav a debuff choice, like any unit hit by a grav weapon cannot advance/halves their movement in their next turn. 

 

Yeah, this kind of thing could definitely make Grav interesting. Would definitely need to be careful to not allow too much Grav leading to MW spam. Maybe something like:

"After this model shoots, if it hit with any attacks with this weapon, the targeted unit suffers 1 Mortal Wound if it has a Save Characteristic of 3+ or better."

 

So you'd get the normal damage of a Grav weapon (still probably needs a profile buff) but then MWs on top against the intended targets.

 

Also, maybe something like this for an improved profile:

Grav-gun: Assault 2, 24", 6/-3/1

 

Compared to the improved Plasma above, the Grav-gun is kind of better at arm's length and gives consistent output against heavily armoured targets; while the Plasma is an all-rounder, still, but more focused on the risk/reward of overcharge. Add in some cost differences (say, Grav-gun at 5pts, Plasma Gun at 8-12pts, Meltagun at 10pts) and there we have three weapons with distinct advantages and disadvantages to one another.

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