How to play Warhammer 40k. 40k for Noobies!: Pack the Big Guns!

Today I am going to discuss something that every one takes for granted in the 40k world, but most noobies find Baffling. What the heck is a Multi-Melta? Assault Cannon whatzitz? How can that Laz-Cannon thingy shoot me from across the table like that?

Yup, you guessed it. I thought I would discuss something as simple as knowing your guns.

5th edition has made 40k a game of cover saves. Against a good player, you will almost NEVER land a clean shot from distance without him getting a cover save. This can infuriate you! It has made long range guns like the Tau Railgun, and close range weapons like the Space Marine Demolisher cannon that once made a Vindicator a thing to fear sort of tame. Cover saves have been the great equalizer!

How do you deal with them? Pack the right guns.

First of all, most armies have some sort of variant of the same guns. I will be talking about mostly Space Marine and Eldar guns since those are what I know.

The going trend in 40k 5th edition is Torrent of Fire. It used to be power of shot and template weapons. Plasma and Demolisher cannons, dropping templates on squads were a thing to behold! You could wipe out entire squads of space marines with a single shot. I learned that was a thing of the past at the last GT in Baltimore. I dropped a vindicator template on a squad of orks, got about 20 under the pie plate... 4 died. And these were ORKS!!!! They all got cover saves, and he made a LOT of saves.

After some research, I realized that the best way to deal with cover saves it to just plan on them getting them. So take guns that have a high rate of fire instead. Torrent of Fire! Replace those plasma cannons with Heavy Bolters! Good AP doesnt matter any more. No matter what your targets are probably going to get a 4+ save. So why not just hit them with as many shots as possible?

So new trend one is Torrent of Fire. Getting as many shots as you can for your points and relying on number of dice to overwhelm your opponent. An example of this is taking a Space Marine Predator with the Auto-Cannon. It is a Str 7 shot that you can fire twice. In the old days, you would never see this thing on tanks. Every one went with the twin linked Lascannon. Now you are seeing more and more auto cannons, just to get an extra shot. You are also seeing Heavy Bolters on the side, and even the extra pintol mounted storm bolter on top! Now a Predator Tank is pumping out 10 shots a turn. Weaker shots for sure, but the game used to be about shots that deny your opponent saves, not it is about forcing your opponent to make saves since he is going to get them any way... why not make lots of them.

Another new trend is the "In Your Face" approach, and the best bang for the buck in this style of play is the Multi-Melta. You used to NEVER see MM on the table. Their short range made them no where near as good as a Lascannon, which can shoot twice as far and is stronger at range blew through transports in 4th edition. Now though, cover saves have taken the balls out of the Lascannon. More and more guys are putting melta and multi melta guns in their squads, and getting in your face. They are deploying closer to you, coming out of drop pods, or moving in transports up into cover and shooting those Melta guns.


Melta guns double the penetration dice at 6 or 12". They are only Str 8, but if you get a Multi Melta within 12" of a tank, you get to roll 2d6 for armor penetration. Guys are going close range. They are moving up to get angled shots to avoid cover saves, and taking Melta guns to do it with.

The biggest bane for tanks? Land Speeders! Thats right, you can pack a Multi Melta and an Assault Cannon onto a Land Speeder, and move that bad boy right up on top of a tank, or behind it, and zap it good.

There goes that assault cannon again... what is that you ask? Well, I will tell you, since I play three tanks that have a twin linked assault cannon as their main gun. Assault cannons are STR 6 Rending Heavy 4 guns. Some come Twin Linked which means they can reroll misses. Heavy four means you get 4 shots. The beauty of them is the Rending! Once you have hit, when you roll to wound, any result of 6 is a Rend. 6 plus the strength of the gun is 12, but the beauty is that you get to roll and additional d3. Roll a 6 sided die, 1 and 2 is +1, 3 and 4 is +2 and 5 and 6 is +3. So, this innocent and simple looking gun can actually destroy Land Raiders! If you are one of those who likes to argue about stuff like that, I had the Math done comparing a Twin Linked Lascannon to a Twin Linked Assault cannon, and the TLAC is better then the TLLC at every armor value except armor 12 for some reason. Cant argue the math! I have a post in my archives.

Oh, and Assault Cannons help out with that torrent of fire pretty good, and they are AP 4.

So, most 'winning' armies are ones that have a good combination of Torrent of Fire, and In Your Face fire power. A good Space Marine list will have lots of Melta Guns and Auto/Assault cannons. Let that be a starting point for you!


Jwolf said...

Texas is certainly the land of Melta. Since everyone and their dog can have deepstriking Meltas (or Firedragons, who practically deepstrike due to Falcons), Melta-you-face is just going to happen. Preparing for meltas is a critical skill.

Autocannons are my favorite infantry heavy weapon. Cheap and they kill Rhinos, trucks, and Raiders, and they have a decent chance against Chimeras and Eldar, too.

jawaballs said...

Yah, meltas have become the standard tank killer of choice... and with mech armies showing their strength... meltas are sprouting up all over... I played a Salamander army with Vulkan who had well over a dozen meltas and multi meltas... Speeders, dreads, heavies in tacticals, you name it! In a very uncharacteristic move I actually went for and won the Seize Initiative... he deployed thinking I would hide. My Baal Preds had a field day first turn! :)

Nagamo said...

As a CSM-player, I would love to have access to autocannons. Flexible and effective, they are a great choise for an all-commers list. As I can´t take them, I have to put meltas whereever possible. By the way, I totaly agree on your thoughts considering torrent of fire. It was the first thing I learned playing my Eldar: the more shots, the better; Scatterlaser ftw...

Ash said...

Great post, love the topic. Do you see non-Mech lists preparing to make a come back as everyone starts shifting to Meltas and tank killers. They have to give up good mass troop killers to get the Meltas, seems like a strong fig heavy army might be able to start to take advantage of this.

In the long run I think you will have to balance both and not over gear in either direction.

These Mech killer list are all over the net. Time to start building to beat them not join them I think.

I am looking at Daemons for this. 40 Bloodletters with PW three DP's and all in your face might have a better chance now than it did a year ago.


Big Jim said...

I completely agree, 5th is all bout maximizing the amount of shots you can put out.

I believe this is the age of the multi-shot weapon.

For my Space Wolves that means plenty of Heavy Bolter, Assaultcannon and Autocannon goodness!

jawaballs said...

My approach has been a balance. I do not have a lot of tank killing power... but I have a good amount of every thing. Besides, 40k in the 5th dimension does not require a lot of 'killing' at all. Smart play, and good use of the available tools will win the day vs obliterating fire power.

Dalton King said...

So what are your thoughts on Land raiders? Do you go with the regular or the crusader?

eriochrome said...

Meltas are king not for the 2d6 in penetration(which is nice) but the +1 for AP1 on the damage table.

It is good that Necrons are out of favor due to sweeping advance of warriors or Monoliths which can pretty much take melta hits without a problem(need 6 pen and 6 damage table to destrou) would be getting spammed heavy.

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