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Welcome, fellow Brother-Captains!
I know I have promised a different breakdown for this week, and I apologize to those concerned. The other breakdown topics are not forgotten, though, and I will see to them as soon as time allows.
Our veterans have a wide variety of different versions of death to deal with their bolters. But what ammo type is best in which situation? There seems to be some confusion about which option is the best in the less obvious cases, I thus decided to compare the effectiveness of the different ammo types in different situations.
Forgive me if I got any of the ammo types' names wrong. I only own a German codex, so I am translating freely and may make mistakes.
Sternguard Ammo Types
Standard Bolter Rounds
...are obviously inferior to at least one other type of available sternguard ammo in any case. So it's a no-brainer not to use standard rounds on sternguard.
...is best when the target profits more from cover than from armor. It will be coded it as DF.
...is best used against high-toughness targets, especially monstrous creatures. It will be coded as HF.
...is obviously the best option at 24"-30", and is perfect for breaking Sv4+ models. It will be coded as KP.
...are for killing MEQ but come at the risk of killing your own models due to the gets hot! special rule. It will be coded as VG.
Obviously, hellfire ammo is the most versatile. No other ammo type can keep up with its chances to wound, therefore they can only be superior in cases where a save that could be taken against hellfire can be ignored entirely or at least in favor of an inferior save with other special ammo types.
Which ammo type is best largely depends on the target's toughness and saves. I have calculated the most effective ammo type for every combination of toughness [from 3 to 10], armor save [from 2+ to none], cover save [from 2+ to none], and invulnerable save [from 2+ to none] and done my best to deduce comprehensible and memorable rules with which to easily identify the best ammo type in every situation.
These simplified rules will be presented in the following. If you are interested in any specific calculation feel free to hit me up. It is pointless to post them here, though, so this post will only feature the results.
[aSV is armor save, iSV is invulnerable save, cSV is cover save, T is toughness.]
Use KP ammo against
- targets more than 24" away
- T=3, aSV=4+, iSV>4+, cSV>4+
- T=4, aSV=4+, iSV=-, cSV=-
Use DF ammo against
- T=3, cSV<6+, aSV>cSV, iSV>cSV
- T=4, cSV<5+, aSV>4+, iSV>cSV
- T=4, cSV=2+, aSV=4+, iSV>3+
- T=5, cSV<4+, aSV>4+, iSV>cSV+1
- T=5, cSV=2+, aSV=4+, iSV=-
- T=6/7, cSV=2+, aSv>4+, iSV=-
Use VG ammo if the target is
- T=3, aSV=3+, cSV>3+, iSV>3+
- T=4, aSV=3+, cSV>4+, iSV>4+
- T=5, aSV=3+, cSV=-, iSV=-
Use HF ammo in any other case.
As you can easily see the results are rather complicated. Thus I will now present simplified rules which do not cover every possible combination of circumstances as given above, but should be true for the vast majority of battlefield situations. (Most enemy squads, for example, do not have an invulnerable save, etc.)
Hellfire is the most versatile of all ammunition types. Unless any of the situations specified above apply, hellfire performs better than or at least equally well as the best of the remaining ammo types.
As soon as your target is T8+ (regardless of saves) or has an armor or invulnerable save (regardless of cover) of 2+ (which can not be ignored by the other ammo types) you are on the absolute safe side using hellfire. But you can more or less safely assume that hellfire is the best option at T5 and higher...
If the target is more than 24" away use Kraken, because it is the only ammo type that can shoot this far.
Furthermore, use this ammo type if your target has a 4+ armor save and has little to no cover. The results here aren't too complicated actually, so we can easily be exact: if the target is T3 it may have a 5+ save (cover or invulnerable), if it is T4 it musn't have any other save at all.
Never use this ammo type on T5+!
Use Dragonfire ammo if your target's best save is its cover save, as a rule of thumb.
If your target is extraordinarily tough (T5+) make sure that its cover save is significantly higher than its other saves (more than 1), but since such beings rarely have worse saves than 5+ and can't really get cover saves of 2+ you might just restrict Dragonfire ammo to T3 and T4, just like Kraken.
Use Vengeance ammo against armor saves of 3+ if the target's other saves are worse.
You can use it on T5 but only if the target has no other saves at all.
- Kraken if target is more than 24" or T3/T4 and its best save is an armor of 4+
- Dragonfire if target is T3/T4 and its best save is cover
- Vengeance if target is T3/T4 and its best save is an armor of 3+
- Hellfire in every other situation...
This simplified summary may seem pretty much obvious and redundant, but now at least you know for sure if before you had already guessed.
What this breakdown is for: you are always free to print out the exact rules given above, or at least check those rules for specific targets your interested in before playing a game, so that you will know which ammo type to best use against which unit.
[Example: how much cover do Khorne bloodletters need to have that choosing DF ammo over HF ammo makes sense? We look at T4 and aSV worse than 4+ (since they have none at all) and see that cover needs to be better than their invulnerable save, thus they need to have at least a 4+ cover save.
If we wanted to know the same for Nurgle plaguebearers we would see that they would ought to have a cover save of at least 3+ for dragonfire to make sense compared to hellfire. Etc...]
A little word of precaution: this is for non-vehicle targets only! Against vehicles Kraken are best.