Lasguns: Bullets or Lasers? Whats the deal,? - Warhammer 40K Fantasy
 

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    Lasguns: Bullets or Lasers? Whats the deal,?

    So I simply have to ask, what's the deal with Lasguns?
    From what I have studied, they seem to be like Star Trek phasers but on a lower level. Often adeptly nickamed "torchlights" by fluff masters. However, for me they just don't seem to fit into the whole universe. However, when I look at the model I see a single shot rifle. One that is past its prime and needing to be phased out (pardon the pun).

    I have read through all the fluff of 40k and have the Dark Gritty future down pretty well. When I look at the Imperial Guard I see a massed produced army that is built to be thrown at the meat grinder. A force that is composed of men who are almost press ganged into serving the Emperor of mankind. These men while trained are almost ill equipped with weapons that are practically obsolete. Don't get me wrong this makes perfect sense of the demands placed on them by the current times.

    However, when I see an Imperial guardsman I see an early word war 2 soldier. The closest parallel I can draw is to that of the Russian infantry. A young man with mass propaganda demanding he fight or be branded a traitor and shot. Yes I am generalising quite a lot.

    The image I see is of a solider with a single shot rifle that is not particularly powerful. Try as I might, I cannot for the life of me picture my little IG shooting lazers from their guns.

    Am I just crazy or does anyone else get this image when they imagine the IG.


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  3. #2
    Son of LO ze_poodle's Avatar
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    Actual lasers used in combat would be pretty hard to visualise for anyone who isn't a physics major. Since I'm not a physics major, I just imagine little lances of red light going "pew pew."

    In actuality (since this is 40k) they'd be a lot more destructive than phasers. For one, because Star Trek was an optimistic (and low-budget) show and the Federation soldiers were technical pacifists, the phasers they used seem to leave no visible mark, being just a semi-magical ray that stuns or kills the target with no wounds. Lasguns don't work like that. Because the lasgun heats anything along the beam up to ludicrous temperatures, and because the human body is still mostly water, what I'd imagine you get with a laser wound is something that looks like a person's blood boiling while still in their flesh (remember, not a physics major.) And, you know, boiling means bubbles, and bubbles expand, so the affected area would probably...pop.

    It's also important to remember that the lasgun is only a negligible weapon by the standards of the tabletop game, which is to say, the standards of Space Marines and Genestealers and guys in Crisis Suits. For anyone who isn't in one of those battles (maybe 98% of the population) a lasgun is probably the most terrifyingly efficient weapon they'll ever see. It's tougher than an AK-47, cheaper to produce, almost never runs out of ammo (and if it does, you can recharge the batteries with sunlight) and a good shot will blow off a man's arm. Actually, that AK-47 metaphor was a really good one. Think of it as the AK-47 of the 40k universe - reliable, deadly, and omnipresent.

    Thematically, yes, the IG are intended to evoke images of WWI and WWII soldiers, particularly the Red Army - which due to its massive size and horrible armament circa 1917, had to update and rearm rapidly to be capable of fighting first a civil war against loyalist Russians and allied powers until 1921 (their ability to do this is usually attributed to Trotsky being something of an administrative genius) and then a second world war in 1940. For this, they needed cheap, reliable guns and tanks like the T-34 and T-54/55. The IG take a lot from this, obviously, since lasguns are designed to resemble the old-school rifles that were used by most militaries prior to the invention of the assault rifle. Fluffwise, though, a lasgun can fire in a number of modes, and there are several different variants capable of firing at different rates and powers - it's not a single-shot weapon.
    Last edited by ze_poodle; June 25th, 2010 at 17:00.
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    I'm pretty sure lasguns would be semi-automatic and not single-shot. Also, since lasguns dont have an AP value, IG would actually be better off with AK-47s. If IG infantry armour, as well as the armour on most basic troops in most armies gives a 5+ save...and since an AK-47 chambered in 7.62mm with generic rounds will easily punch through Class III Police body armor and possibly Class IV (guaranteed penetration on Class IV with AP rounds)...OP is right. Out with the lasguns!

    EDIT: Class IV is military grade, made for stopping military rifle rounds. Important to note, since this IS a war game.
    Last edited by kadicel; June 25th, 2010 at 17:49. Reason: extra info

  5. #4
    Son of LO ze_poodle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kadicel View Post
    I'm pretty sure lasguns would be semi-automatic and not single-shot. Also, since lasguns dont have an AP value, IG would actually be better off with AK-47s. If IG infantry armour, as well as the armour on most basic troops in most armies gives a 5+ save...and since an AK-47 chambered in 7.62mm with generic rounds will easily punch through Class III Police body armor and possibly Class IV (guaranteed penetration on Class IV with AP rounds)...OP is right. Out with the lasguns!
    Keep in mind that this is infantry armour made in 40,000 AD. Even with the Imperium's ten thousand years of technological stagnation, that's a good twenty-eight thousand years ahead of any body armour we make today. So a lasgun's inability to penetrate Guard flak armour (which is actually a misnomer, since flak armour is not intended to stop weapons fire) is not an indicator of its ability to penetrate modern-day infantry armour. Guard flak armour, despite being easily bypassed by 40k standards, is most likely far superior to anything we have hanging around today. For starters, it has to provide equal protection from projectile and laser weapons - I shouldn't have to say that modern armour isn't designed to stop laser beams. In fact, modern armour would probably be completely ineffectual against a lasgun shot.

    I really doubt that an AK would have AP of 5 in a 40k system - the range of weapons with AP5 include rapid-firing RPG launchers, railguns, molecular disintegrators, and flamethrowers. I should also mention that autoguns - the Imperium's equivalent of a bullet weapon like a modern assault rifle - are considered to have the same statline as a lasgun.
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    Son of LO The_Giant_Mantis's Avatar
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    Agreed.. As mentioned by poodle, autoguns, which are equivallent to modern assault rifles, have no AP value in game, and even in Inquisitor are only more effective than most lasgun patterns when used as a 'spray and pray' weapon at very close range. As also mentioned by poodle, a lasgun has no moving parts, is very very cheap, very reliable and can be recharged by virtually anything (including throwing the energy cell into a fire). Also, at least in Inquisitor again, different lasgun patterns have different capabilities. Some literally are single shot laser rifles, others can be adjusted in the field to deal more damage at the expense of battery life, or fire semi-automatically.

    40k is the reversal of standard science fiction tropes in many ways. Most of the elite weapons like bolters and the exitus rifle are advanced projectile weapons, and the bog standard mass produced standard issue is a laser rifle.

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    Toy Soldier Aficionado Wolf Guard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ze_poodle View Post
    I really doubt that an AK would have AP of 5 in a 40k system - the range of weapons with AP5 include rapid-firing RPG launchers, railguns, molecular disintegrators, and flamethrowers. I should also mention that autoguns - the Imperium's equivalent of a bullet weapon like a modern assault rifle - are considered to have the same statline as a lasgun.
    ze_poodle is right. If a bolter round (.75 caliber round with mass reactive detonator cap, depleted uranium core, diamantine tip) is only AP5, then an AK round (7.62x39) would have no AP whatsoever. If you were wondering, this is a 1/3 of the size, and they don't detonate after the embed themselves in flesh/armor.
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    Ze_poodle, you have a way of being profoundly insightful. Have you ever thought of applying to work for games workshop as a writter? I feel that you would do the fans proud and maintain and extend the fluff in remarkable ways. However, back to the discussion at hand.

    Can you see the point I make though?
    A grand space marine uses a bolter. A grand weapon, which to me resembles an assault rifle. A gun that has a faster rate of fire and greater penetration strength than a lasgun. I make these assumes mainly from the visual interpretation of both weapons as well as the play style and fluff of both armies.
    I am sure all new recruits would infer the same imagery both being told otherwise.

    I do not say that the cannon should be re-written, merely that it takes me about longer to get my head around.

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    Son of LO kevin vanrooyen's Avatar
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    Bolters do not have a faster firing rate than lasguns, well not most anyway.

    Although lasguns can be set to single shot mode most fluff shows that many have alternate firing modes, including full auto, and need fewer reloads than most weapons.

    The bolter chambers a small number of large bullets, and generally shoots 4 round bursts, which 99% of the time are 3 rounds more than they need.

    Remember that The Imperial Guard are made to seem weak in individual appearance compared to the other races of 40k. Their guns are made to look less effective than pulse rifles of the Tau, splinter rifles of the Dark Eldar, their armour is made to look weak compared to that of a Space Marine, they are meant to be small compared to an Ork... They are made to resemble in every way the small guy that has to rely on some luck and the rest of his squad to pull through, which also helpes to emphasise the power of the other races in the 40k universe.

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  10. #9
    Member thepete's Avatar
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    Lasguns and Guardsmen get undersold too often in my opinion.

    I did some basic research a while back and through the hazy GW science and basic real science/biology, the lasgun would be a terrifying weapon today. Remember that the tabletop is the elite of the elite fighting it out. The lasgun was designed to kill mostly unarmored people (and maybe orks) and would do so in about the worst way possible for the guy getting shot. As Poodle mentioned, getting hit with a focused beam of extreme heat like that would boil your blood and rupture just about everything in the surrounding area. Extreme heat damage to tissue also causes a nasty thing called compartmentalization. If you were hit in the thigh for example and it wasn't blown off in the boiling gore-splosion, the remaining blood vessels would die and close up from the heat and the rest of the leg goes gangrene. A body shot could cause rapid organ failure, and I don't even know about a headshot. Seems like it would microwave your brain even if it didn't penetrate your headgear or skull.

    Lasguns would also be about as perfectly accurate as a gun could be. Beams/bolts/whatever of superheated light or energy don't care about gravity, wind, soft cover, or anything else that would make a bullet deviate in flight. The only limitation would be how long it takes for the heat to dissipate in the air and make the shots ineffective, but bullets suffer from the same thing with gravity and air friction.

    Why would a bolter be considered superior to a lasgun? Marines like them, thousands of years of tradition, and it's not an assault rifle. Bolters are more or less rapid fire rocket propelled grenade launchers. And that's pretty badass. I would prefer one of those too if I had the option.

    If you look past the game stats and consider how huge of a gap there is between a 3 and a 4, or even within a stat of 3 itself, Guardsmen could vary from militia-like farmers with autoguns to the most highly trained solders we could barely imagine like Cadians. An entire world and culture devoted to war and violence doesn't skimp on gear or training. They're given the best equipment within reason and purpose which happens to be an efficient laser weapon and some high tech armor that can stand up to the weapons they're most likely to face (various autoguns and las-weapons).

    In conclusion Guardsmen are some pretty hard guys with some amazing equipment, but we happen to play a game where giant supermen wearing tank armor and huge planet eating aliens are a lot more common than they should be.

  11. #10
    Son of LO The_Giant_Mantis's Avatar
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    Bolters are often missassumed to be fully automatic weapons.. probably due to the prophensity for artists to draw them with massive muzzle flares blazing away. Given a space marine's superhuman skill, they don't really need to be though.

    There was an old diagram of a bolter in one of the rulebook editions (I think) which suggested it could fire in short bursts (two or three rounds, I can't remember which but I suspect two) or single shots. In Inquisitor (which I know I'm overusing but it is a pretty detailed and fluff-faithful modelling of different weapons) most bolter rate of fire is generally slightly faster than most lasguns, except the necromunda pattern lasgun which can fire pretty fast (two or three shots an action). Belt fed bolters (which presumably aren't limited to burst fire, like modern belt fed squad support weapons) can beat the necromunda pattern in rate of fire, but fundamentally because bolt rounds are so big they're quite restricted as to how fast they can chamber hence they will never spray bullets everywhere like a modern machine gun.

    In short, neither weapon ever fires terribly fast by modern standards. Most lasguns are just single shot rifles (I'd propose heat issues, if an explanation is needed), but some cycle pretty fast. Bolters do fire in short bursts but it's more 'dum dum dum' than 'dakka dakka dakka'.

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