Aug 6, 2011

Plasma Cannon List Examination.

It feels like it's been a long time since I looked at a list, and that's because it has been. Anyway, I had some time the past two weeks where I had paper, a pencil, and plenty of time to do some calculations.

What I was doing was checking individual weapons and units on the Metric System by Nikephoros. I checked all of the weapon options for Crusader Squads, similar setups done by Command Squads and Sword Brethren and Crusader Squads, etc.

FYI: The Multi-Melta gives the best numbers for the cost and the Lazorback does the same ratio of damage to Marines as the Bolterback. But now back on topic.

I was looking for a way to make the Heavy Bolter worth taking and so I compared an Initiate with a Heavy Bolter to one with a regular Bolter and found that the Heavy Bolter was 50% better for the price. Then I checked on Lascannon to Bolter (25%) and then I thought of something. I had long ago passed off the Plasma Cannon as an over-priced risky weapon that had was only mediocre at killing armor and all-together inferior to the Missile Launcher; so I checked an Initiate with a Plasma Cannon to an Initiate with a Bolter. 439% better. I was stunned. And then I got an idea for a list.

Some tweaking later and checking it on the Metric System, it is not too shabby.

Emperor’s Champion: Vow (Abhor), -110

6x Crusader Squad (5): Bolters, Plasma Cannon, Plasma Guns; -666

3x Razorback: TL-Lascannon, Extra Armor, Smoke, Searchlight; -287

3x Razorback: TL-Lascannon, Smoke, Searchlight; -272

3x Land Speeder: TML, Multi-Melta, -255

3x Predator: Autocannon, Lascannon Sponsons, Smoke, Searchlight; -387

Alright, first off is why I chose each unit. I don't need Accept Any Challenge and Abhor the Witch gives me some Psychic Defense plus it's cheap. I have so many Crusader Squads simply because they are more points efficient than Sword Brethren or Command Squads for what they bring and Termiantors wouldn't fit the Armor Saturation. Plasma Guns because they are nice and I like the range. Razorbacks to give me some extra Anti-Tank as well as being able to hurt AV14. Multi-Meltas on the Speeders for their extra help against AV 14 (when it gets closer) and it isn't like I need the Anti-Infantry. Predators add Armor Saturation as well as Anti-Tank.

Originally, the I had regular Typhoons and Tri-Las Predators but that combination didn't give me enough Anti-AV14 so I changed. Before I made the change, however, I did try to give the Crusader Squads Meltaguns. But the Meltaguns have such a short range and I don't have an easy way to make them mobile or make sure they hold the mid-field so I went with this.

The Strategy is to sit the Crusader Squads right on top of objectives, preferably two of them. If I can only get one objective claimed then I will hold it with three Squads (room allowing) while the other three get positioned where they can shoot lots of things. The Typhoons, Razorbacks and Predators shoot vehicles, especially transports, while the Crusader Squads would prefer to shoot at Infantry but they do have the ability to target light vehicles. The Land Speeders won't be using their Multi-Meltas for a while until they need to stop some heavy armor when they move Flat-Out to block them and then open fire next turn.

Now for the scores; they are as follows:

DMS: 39.68

DMCC: 7.2

DRPG: 76.92

DLRPG: 13.59

What do these numbers mean? They mean that I am right on par with Marshal Learoth's Hyper-Optimized NOVA Open list in destructive output; extra DMS but lower DMCC (both by about the same amount). Of course, I might have to re-adjust this because I had forgotton that Plasma Cannons don't shoot if you roll a '1' (as opposed to another template which will simply still fire). Even so, I'm not dropping by too much.

Now, it is worth the effort to have plans on how to deal with certain army types so I'm going to run through some common ones.

Hordes. I place an average of 5 AP2 Blasts and 6 AP5 Blasts at ranges that can touch the other side of the table. Heavy Bolters and massed high Strength low AP shots will gradually thin their number. All the Lascannons and Plasma Cannons will also serve quite well to take down anything that is especially strong long before it reaches my forces. Plus, I can form a defensive perimeter of Tanks should the enemy get too close while I unleash Bolter fire. In a standoff, I think this list has the tools needed.

Mech Marines. Massed mid- to high-Strength guns will quickly de-mech them and then their Armor saves will be worthless to the Low-AP. Again, range will not be a problem.

Biker List. Biker lists have the advantage of impressive mobility and improved Toughness. Toughness will do nothing against most of the guns in this list and Mobility won't save them. There is the danger that they will close quickly and use their Meltaguns/Plasma Guns to kill the tanks, when they will get shot by Small Blasts until they are all dead. Even so, they pose the greatest threat so far.

Rocks. Now, I'm thinking of lists that have one or two super units in transports that come to kill me. Lascannons take down their ride, Plasma Cannons ignore their armor. Ideally, each Rock unit will take 1 turn to eliminate. Of course, they may be able to get close, when the Land Speeders move Flat-Out to block them while I shoot at other parts of the army and next turn 3 Multi-Meltas plus any required Lascannons serve to destroy the vehicle.

Mech Imperial Guard. Once again, same strategy in general. However, this type of list presents something that is unique. I have absolutely no close combat ability whatsoever, which means that I will not have the option of running over to them to beat-face. I have to use especially careful target priority and clever use of terrain and cover in order to overcome a well built one of these lists. Why? Because my strategy is the same as theirs and they are better at it than me.

Skimmer Armies. I expect to have killed all or most of my opponent's vehicles by the end of the game, if they do have some left that are in a position to contest objectives then I will be sure to maneuver some of my own tanks into their way so that they cannot as well as contest objectives on my own.

Deep-Strike. This is simply being careful in Deployment. I admit, right now I have no idea how I would do it but I only need to learn and then apply that learning to this particular list. Oh, and when they come down? AP2 Small Blasts. If they run then there is less chance that I will miss completely.

Those are the only major ones I can think of except for Terminator Armies and Monstrous Creature-heavy ones. But I have plenty of what can kill them so they aren't a problem either.

Sorry about the length of this post and how poorly worded it is. But I don't feel like editing it anymore so here it is. Thank you.


  1. Hello sir! I thought since I was redoing my own numbers on my Nova Open list, I'd give yours a run-through as well to give you a second opinion. This is what I got for your list above.

    DMS: 35.65
    DMCC: 7.2
    DRPG: 75.33
    DLRPG: 14.16

    As for the list itself, let's step away from the numbers real quick. It is fundamentally pretty good. You've got redundancy, plenty of troops, and the ability to deal with infantry and/or vehicles as needed. But it only comes to a total of 1967 points...

    With that being said, there are some problems. I'm concerned the biggest AI threat to your opponent is the Typhoons and will quickly find themselves neutralized. If that happens, you lose 25% of your AT shooting. Even though it doesn't seem like it, a lot of your shooting is centralized to the Predators, Typhoons, and the Razorbacks. 9 of those vehicles are relatively fragile with AV10-11 armor. Fortunately for the Razorbacks, however, there are six of them so it'll be difficult to take them all out.

    Another concern is the hope that the Plasma Cannons will hit troops in the open. Those Crusader squads are the bulk of your AI firepower with a 21.66 score on the metrics. However, more times than not, infantry will be in cover, which will reduce that score by half.

    The Crusader squads also suffer a larger multiplier effect from "Kill Them All" than mine do, because you have 6 rather than my four. With that, you also have a greater chance of failing Righteous Zeal. :(

    But...! While I tend to try and show the flaws of a list (and I'd expect likewise), I will say that its definitely not all bad. I think the list can certainly do well. As I mentioned, you've got me beat in the troops department and the mobility factor due to the redundancy your list has. You're better off in the objective/table quarter's game. And you do have the potential for great damage against clumped up infantry (demeched infantry units). ;)

  2. Aha! Feedback!

    I'm not quite sure how you got your numbers. I just rechecked everything on my DMS and added it again and got the same number I had before, yet you come out at 4 less than I do. Also, I rechecked all of the points costs and came up with what I had before, 1,997 points (though I did find that I had written slightly incorrect numbers in my post, both lines of Razorbacks are down by 10). I don't know how we got different numbers, but there aren't any major differences so oh well.

    I both agree and admit, 90% of my Anti-Tank (assuming longer ranges) comes from my vehicles. And most of my Anti-Infantry comes from my Crusader Squads. That is something that I do not know how to really alter generally but I have lots of vehicles among which my shooting is spread so if I lose three or four Razorbacks then I will still have enough tools to eliminate enemy armor. The greatest amount of damage is centered on the toughest vehicles (Land Speeders excluded) so they should be able to stay in the fight longer than what is less well equipped; Land Speeders will usually have cover which will help them, but I'm not sure how they are a major threat to Infantry, even such a perceived threat since they have Multi-Meltas.

    I don't have to be concerned about hoping to shoot the Plasma Cannons at troops in the open. I followed all of Nikephoros's guides when numbering this list and he chose not to assume cover, so neither did I. This means that, while it will not be realistic for me to kill 30+ Space Marines every round, I still have well more than enough based on the winning lists from last year's NOVA.

    I admit, I do have a greater need for a Marshal, but I have begun to not be as concerned about them as I used to be. "Kill Them All" checks probably won't ruin me with Plasma (unless what I instead have to shoot at is Medium to Heavy armor, which I would have already tried to kill if I remembered) and don't forget MSU. I have six squads so if I lose one or two to failed Righteous Zeal tests (which, at 5-man squads won't be as unreasonable compared to other armies) then I will still have enough for the game.

    Lastly, thank you for your complements about the list. I really feel like I am lacking in Close Combat presence, but the only ways I could improve that would reduce the effectiveness of the list in important areas, such as redundancy and saturation, while not completely solving the problem.

  3. I meant to say: "I'm concerned the biggest AT threat to your opponent is the Typhoons...", not AI. Oops. lol!

    I just redid all of my numbers as well and came up with exactly the same thing. Though, I did assume that the Plasma Cannons hit their mark against vehicles. So one of us is doing something different. :D

    As for the opponent's troops in the open, I understand that Nikephoros made the assumption that they were not (I also did in my numbers). I, however, was making a comment on the reality of what would likely happen during a game. But it isn't really a huge deal, as you're dropping a small blast onto opponents, which force them to take 4+ saves instead of their 3+. You will eventually grind them down across all your units, even if they have cover. But you also might get lucky and get a nice out in the open shot off, and that is where the PC's really do well. :)

    You really don't have very many options against AV14 the way the army is set up. The number of Lascannons aren't really there to make a difference, so you need melta someplace. You chose to take them on the Typhoons and that really is the only option available to you, as much as I dislike saying it. If I were playing you, they'd be the first vehicle targeted because of that. Even a shake/stun takes their shooting out of the game. Not something you can really change, but definitely be mindful of it.

    I wasn't suggesting that you needed a Marshal, just pointing out another observation. When firing the Plasma Cannons, you'll usually be firing at the closest infantry unit, so you should be safe from "Kill Them All" most of the time. Plus you have the EC with one squad, I'm assuming. KTA isn't usually a game changing thing, so that isn't what concerns me the most. Righteous Zeal, however, does. With 6 5-man squads spread around, there is much more opportunity for your opponent to manipulate RZ to their advantage. Just keep an eye on that.

    In my MSU lists (gunline isn't technically MSU), either my troops are there to hide/hold objectives (DDP) or they are running around in transports all game where they aren't exposed to fire (PotMS & Templarbubble). Because yours are exposed to incoming firepower, just make sure those crusader squads aren't holding a critical objective by themselves. And if you have to, go to ground to ignore the coming RZ test. :)

    But, yes. The list works similar to many of the lists I've put out, just with different weaponry. Lots of units that need to be shot, all of which are a threat. Many opponents won't have the resources to get to everything. ;)

  4. Alright, I figured out the numbers thing. You multiply by decimals (correct me if I'm wrong) when I simply use fractions. We end up with slightly different numbers (eg. 3.34 compared to 3.33 DRPG for Typhoons with Heavy Bolters) and those differences multiply through 19 different units, many of which having multiple different guns, and we end up a few points off. Not a perfect explanation but still.

    I admit, with the Multi-Meltas the Typhoons go from a threat that is weakly armored to a big threat that is weakly armored. They are my only source of Melta but I feel like I have enough Lascannons to stop an occasional Land Raider without needing to rely on the Typhoons. Is this setup the best it could possibly be? No, but it is the best that can be done for the list (remember, this originated with Plasma Cannons for the Crusader Squads)

    I only mentioned a Marshal since at the time it seemed like a good way to indicate both "Kill Them All" and "Righteous Zeal" which, in hindsight, wasn't so clear. The only reasonable time that I can think of wanting to fire the Plasma Cannons at something besides the closest Infantry Unit would be another Infantry unit that is not in cover, when "Kill Them All" could hurt but still not too bad. As for Righteous Zeal taking me off of Objectives, remember that I am going to be stacking Crusader Squads on them (usually three squads per) so losing a couple off of one won't ruin my plans, plus, as you mentioned, I can Go to Ground and keep from losing quite as many members. Plus, if I think it is needed, I can line up several vehicles behind my Crusader Squads in such a way as to force them (should they flee) to go around the vehicles to get to the board edge (thus effectively increasing the distance they have to cover and increasing their chances of regrouping).

    And of course I'm not going to put the Emperor's Righteous Champion with a lowly Crusader Squad! He shall sally forth to bring the Emperor's Mighty Wrath(tm) upon the foe in glorious hand-to-hand combat where he shall triumph against all odds every time! No Pity! No Remorse! No Fear! [/sarcasm] :D

    I'm not sure what you mean by Gunline not technically being MSU. As I understand it, MSU is making as much use of your FOC as you can in order to maximize the number of heavy/special weapons, redundancy, and saturation among other, smaller, benefits.

    I have to thank you sincerely for your comments about this list. While I have not made any changes to it from them, you have been able to point out certain things that I am now aware of and would now be able to counter. A good example is the Typhoons; now that you've pointed out how much of a threat they are I would be able to deploy them differently should I need them to survive later in the game for important Objective Grabbing/Land Raider Assassination or the like.