Several questions on the matter come up time and time again. Which gun to put where? Is a Spitfire crap? Can a Multirifle really compete with a HMG on troops that cost 50+ points?
This is actually a very extensive topic and the answer is always a combination of gun, platform and equipment factors.
This blog is named after the fact that single dice Crits don’t matter. You get them or you don’t, one is more a bit more likely than the other. Maximise your chances to get them or beat them by rolling more dice, but don’t ever think about blaming a lucky Crit for anything. Instead be aware this can happen and bring a backup plan, multiple wound Assault Pieces, Doctors and Engineers to keep your push toward the mission goal strong and steady.
Always, in any case and without exception expect to deal with stuff in at least 2 possible ways effectively. If you run into an ARO that has higher chance to win a FTF than you, you’ll better be either taking a calculated risk in that situation. Know how your list answers common threats like AD, TR Bots and linked Missile Launchers. Avoid, kill or trade to remove them on your terms.
Winning a FTF is not the same as killing a model. In your Active turn your Goal is usually not to just win, put to punch through any defenses and drop the other model unconscious or dead. You roll more dice and your opponent less on average, so boosting your dice is more valueable than reducing his. For this reason MSV and high BS troops are the most potent Assault Pieces. Keep in mind that this is still situational. If your most common FTF is against regular models or Mimetism resulting in low or no value for MSV2/3, TO Camo with it’s -6 Mods and Surprise Shot on top might be drastically outperforming a Visor troop even in your Active Turn.
In your Reactive Turn there is a shift in priority, good ARO pieces concentrate on wasting Orders and not dying over killing. For precisely this reason Marker States and negative Visual mods generally outperform MSV troops in ARO. MSV does nothing against other Visors an generic active turn pieces. It also folds like paper against Camo troops with a decent Active Turn weapon in positive rangebands, despite being a “counter”. Camo and TO needs to be revealed first, that is an inherit advantage for ARO, the other guy can’t be sure what it is. Hidden Deployment to pick your engagements even in ARO is the cherry on top and thanks to it TO Camo is the best possible Skill an ARO piece can dream to get.
Bring your biggest gun on your best platform. There are some amazing high end troops out there that can really put some mean Profiles on the board who don’t rely on guns alone. Which is completely fine as long as someone else can do a compareably good job at killing things. If you bring an Asura with HD+ and a Combi you should not be spending your points and SWC on Dakini and Thorakitai HMGs. She is an amazing Specialist but unless you also bring Achilles, another Asura with a Spitfire or a bunch of other capable gunfighters don’t spend 70 points on a HD+ and combi.
1. Direct Template Types
Chainrifles, Flamethrowers, Nanopulsers. They seem awesome but aren’t all that great as main armament – they are however quite cheap and really good secondary weapons. Intuitive Attack makes them makeshift anti Camo as well. Single digit point cost expendable troops as well as heavily armoured multi wound models use them in the most efficent way.
2. Pistol Types (Pistol, Breaker/Heavy/Viral/Assault)
Pistols are very basic BS Weapons that next to anyone has for free. Even a Breaker Pistol is almost exclusively useful in a 8″ ARO. Assault Pistols and Dual Pistols with Special ammunition are a whole different story. They trade any sort of real ranged capability for close range Burst potential while still being cheaper than other weapons. Pistols as main armament are a very rare sight and usually come in tandem with a more powerful gun. The good options are also not exactly free and increase cost as tradeoff for better close range shooting.
3. Shotgun Types (Shotgun Light/Boarding/Heavy/Vulkan)
Shotguns are pretty much the epitome of close range combat as far as shooting is concerned. They ignore Cover ARM, can hit multiple models and can easily reach results that can only be beaten by crits in a FTF. They can even serve as “situational MSV3” when hitting Markers as secondary targets. Unlike DTWs they can be used in FTF, even against multiple targets at once. They have low Burst so a bad roll can go out of hand quickly, squishy low BS troops are not really meant to use Shotguns effectively. They still can pull off emergency assaults, but beware of highly capable and linked troops with Boarding and Vulkan Shotguns.
4. Rifle Types (Rifle, Combi/AP/T2/MULTI/Breaker/Viral/K1)
The humble (Combi)Rifle is often sneered at. It does it’s job, is very capable to kill a lot of things in your Active Turn and has access to Supression Fire. It might also often be your only choice for Line Troops and Specialists. It is important to point out that Combis or the usual Rifle+LSG combination all are more than capable to beat a troop with a better gun in their Active Turn and +3 Rangebands. Expanding on that in 0-16″ Rifles can rely on +3 mods where HMGs, Sniper Rifles and even Spirfires can be underranged. To do this you need to somehow get there and “getting there” is what a real Assault Piece is all about.
For those reason Rifles, including Multi-, Breaker and Viral Rifles make good allround weapons and are a jack of all trades compromise. Rifles in general should be reserved for secondary Assault Pieces, Line Troops and Specialists who will simply not have other options in a lot if cases.
5. Spitfire Types (Spitfire AP, Molotok, Red Fury, MK12)
Now we are starting to get somewhere. Basic Weapons cap out at 16″ +3 Rangebands and Burst 3. If you want to roll more dice on longer ranges you have to spend some SWC. Molotoks, Spitfires and the Red Fury are all basically uptiered Rifles. One additional Burst and either higher DAM or an impoved ammo type make all the difference here. Rangebands beyond +3 ranges suddenly swing to -3 for most guns. That means a gun getting outranged against a gun in it’s prefered Rangeband is a 6MOD swing. Where a Rifle fighting a Spitfire in 8″ rolls 3 Dice on +3 against a Pistol on +3, a Spitfire in it’s prefered Rangeband rolls 4 dice against a Rifle -3 or a Dodge. The Spitfire is significantly more likely to win a FTF harder, more consistent and without eating a DTW than any sort of Rifle can. Even in it’s 0 Rangeband higher B and DAM/Ammo type basically break even. The more Orders you spend on it, the more it outshines the Rifle.
However in SF there is virtually no difference in between a Molotok and AP Rifle in SF, While Multi/Breaker Rifles are usually quite a bit better than a Spitfire. Both cost a good chunck of points and SWC more. Too much if you don’t want to spend Orders on the guy holding it and can use it better elsewhere.
6. HMG Types (HMG MULTI/AP, HRMC)
Don’t get me wrong I like Spitfires, but they can’t do one of the most crucial things in the game – starting an efficient killing spree on the very first Order. HMGs with their high B and Rangebands are immedeately in a strong position to fight into any obvious opposing AROs potentially halting your advance. While some lists, Factions and Sectorials can and have to work around that with heavy VIS Mods and Smoke, the only acceptable substitutes are deployment options like Infiltration or AD to change deployment in your favour. Multi HMGs and HRMC deserve a special mention as they are simply up to twice as good against quite common Dogged, NWI and high ARM ARO Pieces. Further the HRMC is the sole exception from high Burst weapon’s common weakness and has a very handy +0 Rangeband following it’s +3.
DAM 15 can not be underestimated as it makes you equally good as DAM 13AP against anything up to ARM5 and is deadly against any REM, LI and MI in the game. Just like the Spitfire it can keep up with Rifles in 0 Rangebands thanks to increased B and DAM. Again you will want to put there on troops you plan to spend Orders on. A HMG for your LI Link might seem a good idea, but if you plan to heavily invest into defensive Profiles as well, you’ll be better off with something different that can do both.
7. Sniper Types (Sniper Rifle T2/MULTI/Viral/K1, Feuerbach, Autocannon)
King of Rangebands and Active/Reactive punch balance. Snipers dominate long firelanes, if you want ARO, this is your first choice in most cases. First and foremost Snipers hit very hard on top of that actual Sniper Rifles have twice the +3 Rangebands of other guns. Anything exceeding a basic one can deal double damage per hit or heavily modifies defenses. Even basic ones are still DAM 15 for 0.5 SWC. The improved versions always eat at least a whooping 1.5 SWC, which makes it hard to fit a bunch of them into a list. They’re also not cheap, most are in the price range of a HMG or above. Sniper Types double as scary ARO that can take down most targets taking a hit with that hit, even threatening Dogged, NWI and Multiwound Models. As well as secondary Active Turn Pieces. It is also very common for Snipers to ignore or impose VIS Mods or both, stack that with their ability to outrange the vast majority of guns and you have a solid gun.
Do not expect to be able to outrange guns with 16-32″ +3 Rangebands even in your active turn. You’ll be able to pull it off in a lot of cases, but outranging SF ranges should be all you really need to make them work. Sniper’s biggest weakness is their low B and that almost all of them are quite fragile. This means they are affected a by RNG more than you’d like for their steep cost. HMGs are simply more reliable to use in Active Turn.
8. Missile Launchers
These things are the ultimate scare factor. Nothing in the entire game really wants to take a Missile hit. On the downside their +3 Rangeband starts at 24″ and they are limited to Burst 1. You might want to use a any sort of capable, but expendable Assault piece can take on a Missile Launcher, but thinking like that means it is already dictating your game plan to an extent you can’t allow. TAGs and high end HI have good odds to survive at least 1 hit. A ML’s strongest trait is the terror the potential to land a hit causes, it won’t actually do that in most cases. Depending on your opponent he can be baited to tiptoe around it, getting distraced, wasting time and Orders. Don’t expext a visibly deployed ML to do anything in 8/10 games.
The most common used platforms are members of full 5 man Links and TO troops. The first one will always be able to shoot back at not neglible odds, the second one can win a game in a single ARO or Order thanks to Hidden Deployment.The only real way to get some use out of the Template is HD or using the ML in your Active Turn. Both platforms that are good in Reactive are also useful in Active Turn. Remember that you can target unconscious models just fine to catch some guy around a corner without much of a problem. Using a FO or Hacker to put Targeted on something you plan to shoot with a Missile can be a Order efficient way to safely deal with sturdy targets, no need for Smart Missile Launchers to use that. Also remember that every Link Team member has to declare the same ARO or they break out of the Link. If you can catch a few Link Members and not all can shoot back, they’ll be forced to all use Dodge or break the Link. Loosing Link bonus, ML normal rolls against Dodge -3 or your BS Attacks vs only Dodges are a straight win win. MLs are commonly seen as mostly ARO, but offense is where they really shine. Same as Snipers MLs are very highly affected by RNG, don’t use them as your main plan.
9. Rocket Lauchers (Light/Heavy)
Rocket Launchers are a blend of HMG, Sniper Rifle and Missile Launcher – and cheaper than all of them. Templates in general have ridiculous damage potential if you get to use them. Even against single targets, ignoring Cover ARM makes them strong, Rocket Launchers have Fire Ammo on top of that, they are a damn steal for what they do. in Reactive they are worse than Snipers, but more likely to do something than a ML. In Active they are worse than a Sniper until Cover and the Impact Template do something for you – which isn’t all that hard to set up.
However Rocket Launchers are not the solution to everything. They have huge potential, basically only cost SWC but can’t be expected to win you you the game, much like Missile Launchers and Snipers are dedicated secondary Agressive Pieces with very capable ARO potential. They do not fare well at taking out something that has teeth (Other linked RL/ML/MSR, SF etc)
10. The rest of the bunch
Grenadelauncher, Adhesive Launcher, Blitzen, Contender, Panzerfausts, D.E.P., E/M Weapons and everything else not mentioned are not useful as part of a plan. They are too unreliable to be counted upon, although none of them are bad or useless. If you take them and can use them as your best option, do it. If you don’t get to use them 5 games in a row don’t worry too much.
11. Honorable Mention Stun Ammunition
The best ammunition type in the game is MULTI. N3 has added/changed Stun ammuniton and it is now completely broken. While not particulary useful on it’s own – together with the AP, Shock, DA/EXP variants it is a game changer. Shooting a TAG on ARO with a linked MSR might not do much, unless you land a hit on them with Stun ammo. One hit causes 2 BTS rolls, if the target fails one it can’t declare Attacks for the reminder of this turn. No DTWs, no Shooting back at -6 no nothing. Completely harmless for the turn, and very easy to take apart afterwards.
This is however limited to Burst 1 (+potential Link team bonus) so mostly useful for ARO, back shots and attacks of opportunity vs DTW AROs. All the flexibility in the world can still not replace the value of a HMG’s straight approach. Keep in mind to properly compliment your most potent weapons instead of relying on gimmicks too much.
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