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Ok, I run a Space Wolves list, but this would apply just as equally to any space marine army that might utilize devastator squads. I've been playing an HQ Venerable Dreadnought with a Plasma Cannon arm instead of an Assault Cannon and I've REALLY enjoyed the results. It also helps that the Dread can't get killed from that pesky "Gets Hot" rule, but . . .
. . . I'm wondering about the effectiveness of a Plasma Cannon devastator squad, or in my case, Long Fang Pack. Now I suppose with my multi-targeting ability, I wouldn't have to go all PC, I could go 2 and 2 of something else, either LC or ML I suppose, but is putting a bunch of PCs together just a stupid idea? I'm wondering because of course normal space marines are very much more susceptible to the "Gets Hot" rule than the Dread. What are some of your experiences with this? It seems to me that laying 2-4 plasma cannon templates on a squad of 10-20 Black Templars rushing at you could really be cool . . . but of course, who will suffer more?
Anyone seen Plasma Cannon oriented Long Fang Packs or Devastator Squads used effectively? (Defining effectively as causing at least 4:1 deaths enemy:good guys)
"There will never be enough peace in the universe unless first there is enough war." - Farseer Eleuflin
I've faced off against Plasma Cannon Devastator squads before using Chaos space marines, and the unit simply isn't as intimidating as it should be. There are a couple of reasons for this.
First off, the cannon's short range reduces the squad's threat radius and makes it vulnerable to being outranged by another long-range firepower squad (my answer). Because Devastator squads are footsloggers, this can result in a tough choice for the commander - either they move to address the distant threat, wasting a turn or two of fire, or they hope to endure those shots and do damage elsewhere while they're still around. Neither one is good.
Secondly, the cannon's blast template is optimally damaging to MEQs, but good tacticians can negate most of the benefits of a blast template by spacing out their squads. A good opponent will not allow you to earn more than one wound off of many shots, and occasionally two. The Devastator squad's lack of maneuverability means that your opponent can plan ahead for when they will need to enter its threat radius and space her troops accordingly. The cannon also loses quite a bit of worth against large numbers of cheap enemies (also spaced), although its high strength is still useful on that count.
Thirdly, the decreased strength of the plasma cannon makes it far less effective than the standard lascannon or krak missile against light vehicles, and useless against the heaviest vehicles. This reduces the unit's versatility.
Finally, the plasma cannon is more expensive than the lascannon, and certainly more than the missile launcher. This makes the squad a much bigger target than before, and is probably the reason why the two times I've played against such a squad it didn't survive beyond the fourth turn (and did not make the 4:1 killing ratio by a long shot). I needed to advance melee troops, so I buried it with indirect fire...both times.
In the defense of this unit, though, I can see good reasons for adding one or two plasma cannon to a Devastator squad or Long Fang pack. If the enemy must cluster their troops (for instance, if they're outgunned and forced to assault), having the option of dropping a blast template on them as they advance is quite nice, especially when used with the ability to target multiple units. I imagine that using three heavy weapons instead of four for anti-tank fire in a given turn isn't a terrible sacrifice when weighed against the kind of anti-infantry damage a plasma cannon can deal when the opportunity arises. Also, the Gets Hot rule just isn't that much of a disadvantage to a Devastator marine. Crunch the numbers - firing every turn, there's a one in three chance per marine per game that your Plasma Devastator will be lost to the Gets Hot rule.
Here's another possible use - negate the plasma cannon's disadvantage of range and reduce your opponent's ability to react to the cannon via spacing by infiltrating the Devastator squad (and adequate support to keep it safe) closer to the middle of the board. Many players don't take pains to maximally space out their units during deployment (in fact, they typically cluster behind cover), and if you infiltrate into line of sight and shoot the first turn, you can take advantage of that. You also produce a threat that your opponent has to address immediately, giving you more turns of movement to position your flankers or other Devastators. Unfortunately, I wouldn't anticipate this use of a Devastator squad to survive very long either - you'd have to hope that you can trade off its value with a more expensive squad, say, assault marines, or other Devastators.
Loading up on Plasma Cannons isn't too smart, for all the reasons Sycophant already stated. However, they're nice to have, and they can cause a lot of damage.
My personal strategy (and it's worked very nicely in the past) is to build an anti-infantry Dev squad with 3 Heavy Bolters and a Plasma Cannon. the plasma gets its chance to take a chunk out of the target, and whether that works or not, it's still immediately followed by 9 HB rounds slamming into the target. I find it very useful.
Well plasma cannons are kinda a mixed bag really. If you can force your oppenent to bunch up they're devestating, if you can't they don't work so well. So overall the plasma cannon, when mounted on infantry, is more of a defensive weapon. Position a unit so it can shoot a choke point the enemy has to move through and it will do well. You can also use it as a cleaner unit. Say for example your fighting Tyranids. Run a squad of marines up, they get assaulted. The enemy bunches up in assault and then after your marines are dead blast away, cleaning up. You could reinforce this by say infiltrating some scouts who have some other purspose, so when the enemy tries to take them out you'll be ready to make their life miserable. Oh and unless your oppenent is spacing his guys at exactly 2 inches, you'll be getting at least 2 hits each time, which isn't that bad if your fighting anyone whos fairly expensive and has a good armor save or good toughness.
Plasma cannons are also murder on open topped vehicles. Most open topped vehicles aren't over AV 11 so you'll have a decent chance to penetrate, and when you do, they take two hits because its a blast weapon.
Plasma Cannons.. as an Ork player i laugh at plasma cannons.. because of the way i space usually only one Boy gets killed by the blast. The only light vehicle i usually run is a warrtruk for my big mek but thats usually behind my two main tanks using its KFF so the blast has no effect. I would be MUCH more afraid of a HB then a plasma cannon, the cannon may wound on 2's as opposed to 3's but its generally easy to avoid getting bunched up under teh template. I would be much more afraid of a missle launcers frag round even because against hordes a plasma cannon is just overkill. I can see it being devistating against things like Deep Strikers because they are all bunched up, but i often play a Dark Angels player who loads up on plasma cannons and ive never lost to him by spacing. He also does the same thing but with bolt of change when he plays Tzheech. Its a ridiculous tactic and it will never work on me.
“Krump first, assk qweztions neva'!"- 3000 Orks
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"the very gods for vengeance cry”- 3000 Dwarves
IMO plasma cannons are pretty much worthless unless playing something like a terminator heavy army or nailing a unit that has just DSed. IMO devastators should be all missile launchers or all lascannons. Or all HBs if you are playing horde.
The sun never sets on a badass.
I have to agree with pretty much everyone here. The plasma cannon, on paper, is great, but the legistics of getting a good shot off to kill it's points (much less 4:1) is tougher than it should/seems to be.
Against your example of BT on a 4' wide board, if you place them in the middle of the board (tactically one the of the best positionings due to range, I think), then you shoot the blast markers, and kill 6-8 of the 20 man crew. They only start about 12-13 inches away because of your placement and deployment zone, and surge ahead 3-4", leaving them well within charge range. I admit this can be countered, but a unit like this would need to be able to shoot the entire game, and not get charged on the first or second turn. Furthermore, against BT, if they have a majority armor save of 4+, the HB would be a better option (ignoring their armor as well as the PC for way less points).
There are times when it's invaluable (after an opponent's DS or after getting out of a rhino or something similar), but in general, I think a lascannon or missile launcher with it's longer range as good or better. And since the SWs tend to have a relatively few number of guys as compared to BT, I would go with 2 missile launchers (good against hordes, too), 2 lascannons for a more flexible unit (or all ML). Just my two cents.
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I'll be the lone wolf on this one I suppose... Get it? Wolf!? :tongue:
I always take this setup with my long fangs:
Bolter / CCW x 1
Plasma Cannon x 2
Missile Launcher x 2
This squad has proved invaluable to my 1500+ point lists. Granted I mostly play against MEQs, but who doesn't? And sure, there will be games when the plasma might not live up to it's full potential, but there are also games where you leave your opponent no choice but to deep strike a squad of terminators within range and the cannons quickly become the MVP.
Our ability to split fire makes plasma cannons a much better option for us than normal dev squads:With two missile launchers or lascannons in the squad this problem still exists, but not nearly to the extent it does for normal marines. Set them behind some cover and it gets even better.First off, the cannon's short range reduces the squad's threat radius and makes it vulnerable to being outranged by another long-range firepower squad (my answer). Because Devastator squads are footsloggers, this can result in a tough choice for the commander - either they move to address the distant threat, wasting a turn or two of fire, or they hope to endure those shots and do damage elsewhere while they're still around. Neither one is good.Again, having two 48" vehicle poppers in the squad negates this argument. In fact having two weapon types will greatly increase the unit's versitility.Thirdly, the decreased strength of the plasma cannon makes it far less effective than the standard lascannon or krak missile against light vehicles, and useless against the heaviest vehicles. This reduces the unit's versatility.Plasma cannons and lascannons cost exactly the same amount.Finally, the plasma cannon is more expensive than the lascannon, and certainly more than the missile launcher. This makes the squad a much bigger target than before, and is probably the reason why the two times I've played against such a squad it didn't survive beyond the fourth turn (and did not make the 4:1 killing ratio by a long shot). I needed to advance melee troops, so I buried it with indirect fire...both times.
Range can be an issue, but we are still talking about 36". Set them up in cover near the middle of the board and they should have a plethora of juicy targets against any MEQ army.
Another little tactic I have been known to use is to load my fangs up in a rhino. I'll use the first turn or two to get them into a great position then use the rhino as a shield to block line of sight to them from distant firepower. You have to be careful, not to block the long fangs own line of sight to their targets, but it can certainly be done with a little finess
All in all plasma cannons make for a great choice of weapon when combined with a missle launcher or lascannon using the split fire ability of the Long Fangs. In a standard dev squad I wouldn't be caught dead using them, but in this case, blast away!
Ok, here is my 2 cents. I have not been playing 40k long, but have tried several different armies using lots of plasma cannons.
First...I love them. They look cool, have a decent range, and are really intimadating to most players, and losing a guy to 'gets hot' is rare.
However, how effective they are, as everyone above has said, really depends on how your opponent plays. If he tends to bunch up his guys, PC's are devestating. However, it will not take long for people to correct this error in thier play.
Personally, I would never put 4 of them together in a dev squad. As others have pointed out, it simply limits the squad too much, and that would be SO expensive. Your much better off keeping your dev squads to HBs or MLs and putting 2 or 3 PC's in tac squads. That way if 1 tac squad has to move to get into position, you are still firing with the other 2, plus they are much cheaper.
Also, I don't play any divergent chapters, and your saying you can target 2 different units with your devestators? Cool...I have never played or against Space Wolves, but in that case you could certainly place 1 in a squad with HB's (same range) for a little more flexability. But 4 in one squad? I wouldn't.
Space wolves do not get heavy weapons in their tactical squads. In fact, space wolves don't even get "tactical squads." = PPersonally, I would never put 4 of them together in a dev squad. As others have pointed out, it simply limits the squad too much, and that would be SO expensive. Your much better off keeping your dev squads to HBs or MLs and putting 2 or 3 PC's in tac squads. That way if 1 tac squad has to move to get into position, you are still firing with the other 2, plus they are much cheaper.