Thursday, March 19, 2009

Some Notes on Special Weapons for Plague Marines

Plague marines get to choose between 3 special weapons: melta guns, flamers and plasma guns. I've made some semi-random notes about the pro's and con's of each for use with my Death Guard forces that I wanted to share with you.

Flamers.
Positives: Cheap, Template Weapon, No cover saves.
Negatives: Uses a slot that could be a melta gun(?)

For the positives, the points cost should be self-explanatory. The second positive is about the weapon being a template weapon. Typically, I find that Death Guard cannot pump out the sheer number of shots that other armies are capable of (see a previous discussion here). Hence taking template or blast weaponry makes up for this short-coming ... somewhat. The third positive is more about the meta-game: 5th edition has lots more cover saves, so flamers have become the tool of choice for digging out entrenched troops from fortifications, ruins, woodland and craters. The singular (debatable) negative point brings me around to:

Melta Guns.
Positives: Its a Melta Gun!, AP 1, Tank Busting.
Negatives: Short Range, Single Shot.

In the present environment, or meta-game if you like, tanks and mechanized army lists are very strong. Therefore, the modern plague marine should be carrying some melta guns to at least threaten opposing tanks and elite troops / monstrous creatures. With AP 1 and the extra die for penetration, the melta gun does all that. It transforms an ordinary plague marine squad in to something more deadly. But, this has to be weighed against the comparatively short range of the weapon and the fact that it is only going to hit two-thirds of the time. The first negative shouldn't be too much of a negative for plague marines - they're fundamentally a 24" army since they can't carry any other weapons. Moreover, they're also likely to be (nay: should be!) vehicle mounted for maximum mobility in the current meta-game. The second negative can be offset by having more than 1 melta gun in the squad (2 meltas and perhaps a combi-melta on a plague champion). Some of them should hit. But a squad with 3 meltas needs to be very mobile and pick its targets with care and speed.

Plasma Guns.
Positives: Plague marines feel no pain, 24" range and rapid fire, good strength and AP.
Negatives: Gets Hot!, Expensive, Uses a slot that could be a melta gun(?).

The first point in both positives and negatives almost balance out. I don't mind taking plasma guns on plague marines since they're less likely to dies from a gets hot! roll compared to "normal" marines. But when one does perish, it is a big loss for the team: 38 points worth of loss to be exact. The range of the gun (24") perfectly matches the bolters in the rest of the squad and the weapon has a reasonable strength and AP that can be used against terminators and light vehicles. However, they're expensive compared to the other two special weapons. When I field them, I usually do so in pairs (and perhaps with a combi-plasma on a plague champion) and tend to sit them on an objective. They can be rather fearful for even bikes to get close to.

3 comments:

Chris said...

Very interesting post. I'm thinking of re-jigging my army list based on your earlier posts on getting the most hits from plague marine squads using flamers, havoc launchers etc.

Farmpunk said...

it's sort of a hard choice with plague marines and special weapons.

I think in 5th ed, the dual flamer squad has become a better choice.

dual meltas is still nice. I never liked losing anyone to plasma burn, except for a cheap guardsman, who's expendable anyway.

jabberjabber said...

I've sometimes run 3 flamers (2 normal flamers and a combi flamer on a champion) - regular space marine players simply are not prepared for that combo!

Usually, I tend to settle on either 1 melta + 1 flamer (to maximize battlefield usefulness and threats); or 2 plasma (to hold objectives) in a squad of 7.

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