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Why use Plasma Guns?

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A thought occured to me with regards to the Astartes Plasma gun.  They look really big and threatening, but what is the advantage of using one verses, say a bolt gun with kraken rounds?  The benefit of a Plasma gun seems to be that they are "volatile" and do automatic righteous fury on a roll of 10, but deathwatch get that bonus anyways (against Xenos anyways).  In addition, the rate of fire is limited to 2 which is less than a marine with a bolter can get going full auto.  I find the same thing playing Dawn of War 2, they have a slow rate of fire and the damage doesn't seem especially great.  What niche do they fill in an Astartes squad?

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 Because 2d10+9 pen 10 is still very impressive with a single hit. And when it comes to single enemies, single shot damage output is king. Also, most gms would probably allow players to carry multiple basic weapons so its a good secondary. Also, it has way better range than a melta for that level of output.

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I thought that a plasma gun is only 1d10+9 Pen 8 (I think you might be thinking of the Plasma Cannon).  Mind you, there may have been an errata that came out after the main Deathwatch came out.  With the stats I had I don't see it being that much better than a Bolter. 

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I think Kommisar is refering to firing in Maximal mode. That would add 1d10 damage, 10m to the range, and 2 penetration. It uses 3 rounds of ammo, and adds the Overheats and Recharge qualities, but against single enemies, Kommisar said it best, damage output is king. I would, and do, use plasma weapons because of that.

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Problem with the Plasma pistol is that mechanically in DH & RT they used fall somewhere between a civilian/normal human sized bolt pistol and an inferno pistol, which was ok at the time because they did ok damage when set to maximal.

In DW they're way under a Astartes Bolt Pistol with its 2D10+5 Pen 5, 3rd burst, hi-cap magazine... with tearing damage and still a bit under the capabilities of an Infernus Pistol's "tank busting" damage and pen.

So, basically if you want to handicap yourself with a really mediocre sidearm after spending 25 acquisition, carry a plasma pistol, or just keep using the freebie bolt pistol most everyone gets straight out of the box because it will wreck a lot more things!

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If your not concerned with number crunching.

You want to be stylish.

You want to carry an ancient relic into battle.

Carry a plasma weapon.

 

I might consider bonus renown for the individual who carries a plasma or melta weapon into combat. 

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I don't think specialty ammo is a justifiable way to say that the plasma gun itself is not useful. Being its own weapon, it technically has "as much ammo as is needed for the mission," while specialty ammo is a single clip. Sure, the games you run might be short, but if the players find themselves in a longer mission, they may wish they have that extra punch when surrounded by heavily armoured foes and out of specialty ammo. At which point, pen 10 is amazing. Basically, if you know the enemy has 10+ armour (chaos marines anyone?) the plasma gun is a very good choice (2d10+9 pen 10 will hands down beat 2d10+5 pen 5 tearing against enemies with ap10, and volatile is icing on the cake, especially with the traitor marine example). Sure it only fires every other round, but thats why the God-Emperor gave you two hands.

Same with the pistol, the cost is for the damage output. Sure its expensive, but the extra one or two points of damage it may deal is what you're paying for.

Finally, it, and the melta, can also be used for more narrative purposes, if the players need to make a hole in that wall faster than if they were using bolters.

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Maximal fire is probably the answer to riddle.  Basically a "full auto" feature for Plasma Guns who want to make a big hole in a Chaos Marine or a Tyranid Warrior.  I am at work now so I need to be productive, but can someone re-iterate the rules for "Maximal" Thanks.

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As Wizend said:

"That would add 1d10 damage, 10m to the range, and 2 penetration. It uses 3 rounds of ammo, and adds the Overheats and Recharge qualities"

Its an option all plasma weapons have. My responses on this thread have always been assuming that it is fired in maximal mode (as anything otherwise is silly, the bolter is better). Many people overlook maximal mode, either by looking at just the table of weapons, or the table and the exact weapon description, skipping over the more generic "Plasma weapons" section. Don't forget that melta weapons also receive a similar bonus, but is based on range.

Still, its not that much better, but generally, this system seems to have diminishing returns on weapon damage output/weapon cost. Not that this is a bad thing either, its how I would expect the system to be. You may very well spend 30-40 requisition for +1 damage (note the assault cannon vs. heavy bolter arguments).

 

EDIT: On plasma weapons with a blast, maximal also increases its blast radius by 2m.

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I gave plasma and melta pistol and basic weapons +1D10 damage. Makes them more 40K like (compare to their heavy versions) and helps plasmaguns with its anti-heavy infantry/anti-light vehicle role (not to forget anti-Monstrous Creature).

 

Just consider plasmagun vs terminator in 40K and plasmagun vs terminator in DW and you'll see why I do that.

 

Alex

 

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 It's an artifact of the inflation of Bolter stats in Deathwatch. I scaled mine back to be closer to Rogue Trader levels, which I feel are a better reflection of the weapon differences in the tabletop game. Of course, I'm of the opinion that tabletop is an accurate representation of the 40k universe and trumps other sources (novels, etc). 

Here's what I use, which makes Plasma a reasonable specialist choice:

Bolter (Astartes), Basic, 100 m, S/2/4, 1D10+6 X, Pen 5, Clip 28, Full, Tearing
Storm Bolter (Astartes), Basic, 100 m, S/2/4, 1D10+6 X, Pen 5, 60, 2 Full, Storm, Tearing
Bolt Pistol (Astartes), Pistol, 30 m, S/2/-, 1D10+6 X, Pen 5, Clip 8, Full, Tearing
Heavy Bolter (Astartes), Heavy, 120 m, -/-/10, 2D10+3 X, Pen 6, Clip 60, Full, Tearing

Plasma Gun (Astartes), Basic, 100 m, S/2/-, 1D10+7 E, Pen 6, Clip 40, 4 Full, Volatile
Plasma Cannon (Astartes), Heavy, 150 m, S/-/-, 2D10+10 E, Clip Pen 8, Clip 16, 5 Full, Blast (1), Volatile
Plasma Pistol (Astartes), Pistol, 30 m, S/2/-, 1D10+7 E, Clip Pen 7, Clip 12, 3 Full, Volatile
 

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Fenrisnorth said:

I believe it gives non blast plasma weapons Blast (2) as well

Nope, but I wish. The RAW is more of a nod towards the Plasma cannon. The Deathwatch Core Rulebook states "... but increases any Blast Quality by +2" on page 147 under Firing Plasma Weapons. It doesn't add a blast quality, just ups it by 2 points if it's already there. 

Please note that I'm not flaming you fenris, I just wanted to clear that up. When you said that it added a blast I was like sorpresa.gif along with a hefty "I gotta get me one of those!" I think I might make it a house rule just out of sheer awesomeness. If you couldn't tell, I'm a bit of a plasma-phile.

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No offense taken Wiz. I share your views on plasma. Everything in my DA army that can take plasma, has plasma. EVERYTHING! Devs, Sgts, Characters, Dreadnought, everything. heck, I even bitzed up a plasma based assault cannon. Basically a beam-style plasma weapon.

 

It was a misread on my part and I apologise for getting your hopes up Brother.

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Fenrisnorth said:

No offense taken Wiz. I share your views on plasma. Everything in my DA army that can take plasma, has plasma. EVERYTHING! Devs, Sgts, Characters, Dreadnought, everything. heck, I even bitzed up a plasma based assault cannon. Basically a beam-style plasma weapon.

 

It was a misread on my part and I apologise for getting your hopes up Brother.

 

Legion Of The Damned + Plasma Gun/Cannon/Combi-Plasma. I like it (I am not a good player though). :-)

 

Alex

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deinol said:

 It's an artifact of the inflation of Bolter stats in Deathwatch. I scaled mine back to be closer to Rogue Trader levels, which I feel are a better reflection of the weapon differences in the tabletop game. Of course, I'm of the opinion that tabletop is an accurate representation of the 40k universe and trumps other sources (novels, etc). 

Here's what I use, which makes Plasma a reasonable specialist choice:

Bolter (Astartes), Basic, 100 m, S/2/4, 1D10+6 X, Pen 5, Clip 28, Full, Tearing
Storm Bolter (Astartes), Basic, 100 m, S/2/4, 1D10+6 X, Pen 5, 60, 2 Full, Storm, Tearing
Bolt Pistol (Astartes), Pistol, 30 m, S/2/-, 1D10+6 X, Pen 5, Clip 8, Full, Tearing
Heavy Bolter (Astartes), Heavy, 120 m, -/-/10, 2D10+3 X, Pen 6, Clip 60, Full, Tearing

Plasma Gun (Astartes), Basic, 100 m, S/2/-, 1D10+7 E, Pen 6, Clip 40, 4 Full, Volatile
Plasma Cannon (Astartes), Heavy, 150 m, S/-/-, 2D10+10 E, Clip Pen 8, Clip 16, 5 Full, Blast (1), Volatile
Plasma Pistol (Astartes), Pistol, 30 m, S/2/-, 1D10+7 E, Clip Pen 7, Clip 12, 3 Full, Volatile
 

These don't seem unreasonable, and seem in line with each other.  Personally though I've found less impact to the game by upping the weapon damage than by reducing it.  The issue I found with decreasing damage is the enemies and encounters became far more unpredctable and made my encounter planning even more of a pain- and I'm lazy.  Once I was able to accept that the game started you off at an epic level, and the marines doled out ridiculous amounts of damage no matter what I did, I focused more on creating challengeing encounters.  Once I did that I had no trouble working with my group, and they're still scared of my bad guys because the game gives the GM so many resources and different ways to kill off PCs it's almost ridiculous.

And while I like maximal it still doesn't seem to justify the req cost, when I can get a bolter with special ammo for less.  To fit with the flavor, it just feels like it needs a bump to me.

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Maximal is nice, but since it adds the recharge quality it puts it right back below the bolter IMO.  Yeah it's a nice single hit, but I'll take more good damage hits any day.  2 rounds of bolter hits still comes out pretty near the plamsa gun I reckon, maybe even above.  And that assumes the poor plamsa gun shooter doesn't miss.  As soon as you add in a few misses the bolter comes out way ahead.

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Blizzard36 said:

Maximal is nice, but since it adds the recharge quality it puts it right back below the bolter IMO.  Yeah it's a nice single hit, but I'll take more good damage hits any day.  2 rounds of bolter hits still comes out pretty near the plamsa gun I reckon, maybe even above.  And that assumes the poor plamsa gun shooter doesn't miss.  As soon as you add in a few misses the bolter comes out way ahead.

Well in my experience it depends on the enemy the team faces. Against Melee oriented enemies the first salvo is often the most important one, putting down that [Random Master Class Melee Monster] before it can use his Lightning Attack + Multiple Arms makes the difference between an easy victory and burned Fate-Points.

 

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I agree with Whiz completely. Sometimes you need to paste someone in a hurry, no questions asked. I can think of a few situations in battle "turning points" where speed is crucial to the success of the battle. And remember that not everyone in the group is going to be packing plasma so there is plenty of time to worship your precious bolters if you like. If you don't like plasma then dont use it.

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WizendTurnip said:

I agree with Whiz completely. Sometimes you need to paste someone in a hurry, no questions asked. I can think of a few situations in battle "turning points" where speed is crucial to the success of the battle. And remember that not everyone in the group is going to be packing plasma so there is plenty of time to worship your precious bolters if you like. If you don't like plasma then dont use it.

I don't disagree here that speed can be crucial, and I don't actually worship the bolters- that's why I opted for the proposed increase in plasma damage.  The RAW won't let your plasma, on average, paste your enemies.  The plasma gun, to me anyhow, doesn't do enough damage to justify it's req cost (or some would argue fit the feel of the fluff)

Plasma on Maximal get's +10m, +1d10, and +2 pen, so that means your plasma gun will do 2d10+9 pen 10 at 110m, and can fire up to 2 shots giving you a +10 to hit.  It will also cost you 20 req and require you be rank 2 (respected) and gain the overheats quality, use 3 rounds per shot fired (so you would essentially spend 6 rounds of ammo, assuming you let your players shoot autofire on maximal- if you don't let them use autofire on maximal then the bolter wins hands down), and gains the recharge trait.

Boltgun basic does 2D10+5 pen 5 at 100m and can fire up to 4 shots.  It's also free for most Marines (or 5 otherwise).  Now if you like, include let's say Kraken rounds and your gun now shoots 150m and does 2D10+5 pen 8.

Let's give our fictional enemy AP 10, meaning the plasma does full damage.  Saying each die on average comes up 5 (for argument's sake) the plasma will now do on average 19 points per hit, so up to 38 points of damage past the opponents armor.  The boltgun will do an average of 13 points per hit (15 pen 8 so it has to go through 2 more points of armor), so up to 52 points of damage past the opponents armor. 

We can then factor in toughness, let's give them a TB of 8.  That means the plasma is doing 11 damage per hit (19 -8), for a total of 22 wounds to this poor bastard.  The boltgun is doing a mere 5 damage per hit (13 - 8), for a total of 20 damage to this guy.  The difference is only 2 wounds here.  The next round is either round two of trying to keep the enemy at bay (in which case the boltgun can do 20 more damage to the guy while the plasma recharges) or you engage in hand to hand.  How often is two wounds literally your margin of success or failure?  It happens sometimes don't get me wrong (and can be very exciting and rewarding as well) it just doesn't happen that often, and as a DW Marine I'd rather go with reliable and predictable.  And it cost your team 20 req which could've been spent elsewhere.

This is of course disregarding fate, in that the maximal plasma does auto-confirm RF, which, depending on the RF rules your doing can be amazing (but if you're using them RAW then you're probably auto-confirming RF against this bad guy with multiple arms and lightning attack anyhow).  But then again, I'm also not factoring in the tearing quality of the boltguns shots, which will marginally increase their damage output.

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If we want to talk about speed, I think a bolter on full auto is the faster option for pasting someone. I just really can't conceive of how two maximal shots are supposed to put someone down rather than four plain bolter shots. And let's not forget how it's 4 Full to reload the plasma gun.

And I've got agree that Volatile's essentially a non-factor when Deathwatch Training's a given.

And I want to like plasma. I really do. And nothing really makes me angrier than people who seem to think that I should be happy taking sub-optimal choices for roleplaying purposes and that somehow makes it all okay. It's a sad indictment of our hobby to see the Wiz boys saying "if you don't like it, don't use it! stick your head in the sand and pretend there's no problems!" rather than "don't think plasma measures up to fluff? let's brainstorm to get plasma the place of glory it deserves!" It's also incredibly sad that pointing out factual error might be construed as flaming.

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Charmander, I respect your point of view and even agree with it to an extent. However there are a few things that I think youre assuming. I don't think that the average boltgun autofire spray is going to acheive all four hits every time. You are right that the 2 damage difference between the guns is far from a gamestopper, but it still takes 4 shots of the bolter to equal 1 shot from the plasma rifle, if we just compare damage. This is also assuming that the character is using kraken rounds, though this is fair considering most marines have at least 1 clip. I also concede that the boltgun's tearing trait would weaken my argument. In short

MegaDandy, I wholeheartedly apologize for my earlier comment. I was just irritated that the mechanics argument was still going on without much of a point. I understand your view as well, It's hard to go into a game without trying to win. And in combat roleplaying games, that means optimizing combat efficiency. You are right to feel this way and I feel a fool for discouraging democracy. For the record, I have increased plasma weapons in my games by +5 dmg and +3 pen, which I think puts it in line with the canon.

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WizendTurnip said:

Charmander, I respect your point of view and even agree with it to an extent. However there are a few things that I think youre assuming. I don't think that the average boltgun autofire spray is going to acheive all four hits every time. You are right that the 2 damage difference between the guns is far from a gamestopper, but it still takes 4 shots of the bolter to equal 1 shot from the plasma rifle, if we just compare damage. This is also assuming that the character is using kraken rounds, though this is fair considering most marines have at least 1 clip. I also concede that the boltgun's tearing trait would weaken my argument. In short

MegaDandy, I wholeheartedly apologize for my earlier comment. I was just irritated that the mechanics argument was still going on without much of a point. I understand your view as well, It's hard to go into a game without trying to win. And in combat roleplaying games, that means optimizing combat efficiency. You are right to feel this way and I feel a fool for discouraging democracy. For the record, I have increased plasma weapons in my games by +5 dmg and +3 pen, which I think puts it in line with the canon.

I guess it depends on what you're shooting at- giant creatures and hordes, my players tend to shoot the crap out of them due to autofire bonus of +20 and usually a size bonus (either from a horde or a huge target).  It hasn't proven too difficult to get 4 DoS for them on a very regular basis, despite their crap rolls and insane ability to trigger perils of the warp all the time, and that's what I was going on.  I guess an average marine's BS would be what, say 45?  +20 for auto fire and +20 for size making it 85 at over 50m, 95 at under 50.  Average roll of say 50 give you 3 DoS at above short range?

But in my math, as terrible as it was, that was 2 shots from the plasma rifle on maximal, versus 4 shots from the botgun with kraken.  If you're not firing on maximal, or you're not allowing autofire on maximal, the bolter wins the match (there was a debate previously on whether plasma could do semi auto on maximal, I say yes.  And totally off topic, why is a short burst 'semi-auto' and a full burst 'full-auto' when both are actually 'full auto' one is just a shorter burst than the other?).  The damage to the character in the previous example would be reduced to 11 wounds from the plasma and the boltgun still does 20.  Autofire trumps just about everything it seems (almost too powerful if you ask me).

To me that pays the plasma a great disservice- I want versatility in my main battle rifle and specialized power in my specialized weapons (an in the case of plasma I want it to vaporize my opponents, same with meltas).

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Charmander said:

WizendTurnip said:

 

Charmander, I respect your point of view and even agree with it to an extent. However there are a few things that I think youre assuming. I don't think that the average boltgun autofire spray is going to acheive all four hits every time. You are right that the 2 damage difference between the guns is far from a gamestopper, but it still takes 4 shots of the bolter to equal 1 shot from the plasma rifle, if we just compare damage. This is also assuming that the character is using kraken rounds, though this is fair considering most marines have at least 1 clip. I also concede that the boltgun's tearing trait would weaken my argument. In short

MegaDandy, I wholeheartedly apologize for my earlier comment. I was just irritated that the mechanics argument was still going on without much of a point. I understand your view as well, It's hard to go into a game without trying to win. And in combat roleplaying games, that means optimizing combat efficiency. You are right to feel this way and I feel a fool for discouraging democracy. For the record, I have increased plasma weapons in my games by +5 dmg and +3 pen, which I think puts it in line with the canon.

 

 

I guess it depends on what you're shooting at- giant creatures and hordes, my players tend to shoot the crap out of them due to autofire bonus of +20 and usually a size bonus (either from a horde or a huge target).  It hasn't proven too difficult to get 4 DoS for them on a very regular basis, despite their crap rolls and insane ability to trigger perils of the warp all the time, and that's what I was going on.  I guess an average marine's BS would be what, say 45?  +20 for auto fire and +20 for size making it 85 at over 50m, 95 at under 50.  Average roll of say 50 give you 3 DoS at above short range?

But in my math, as terrible as it was, that was 2 shots from the plasma rifle on maximal, versus 4 shots from the botgun with kraken.  If you're not firing on maximal, or you're not allowing autofire on maximal, the bolter wins the match (there was a debate previously on whether plasma could do semi auto on maximal, I say yes.  And totally off topic, why is a short burst 'semi-auto' and a full burst 'full-auto' when both are actually 'full auto' one is just a shorter burst than the other?).  The damage to the character in the previous example would be reduced to 11 wounds from the plasma and the boltgun still does 20.  Autofire trumps just about everything it seems (almost too powerful if you ask me).

To me that pays the plasma a great disservice- I want versatility in my main battle rifle and specialized power in my specialized weapons (an in the case of plasma I want it to vaporize my opponents, same with meltas).

 

Not to mention the increased chance of the all important RF thanks to Tearing.

 

Alex

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