I know a lot of people have posted possible "fixes" for Melta and Plasma weapons. I started thinking "It's a game. Do the mechanics of imaginary weapons necessarily have to conform to known physics?" With that thought in mind, I approached Melta and Plasma weapons from different perspectives, namely what we know of them from "fluff" and the TT game.
Melta weapons are known for punching through armour. One proposed "fix" (as seen in Black Crusade, and I'm assuming will be in Only War) is to double the Penetration value of Melta weapons when fired at a target within Short Range. Their Damage is already considerable, so this seems a logical approach, considering they're known for punching through armour.
As I started looking at Plasma weapons I touched upon two interesting thoughts: "What if it weren't all about how close I am to my target?", and "Melta" and "Plasma" as Weapon Qualities.
In regards to Plasma, I crunched some numbers (the old-fashioned way, mind you) and came up with this…
For each full 3 DoS on the BS Test when firing a Plasma Weapon the wielder will add the weapons Penetration value to the Damage calculation, up to 9 DoS (or 3x Pen).
Imperial Plasma weapons have a Pen of 8-10 (sometimes more, depending on setting). I didn't think it unreasonable, with enough DoS, that a Plasma weapon could do an additional 24-30 points of Damage. A weapon that hurtles miniature suns into a target? Sure, why not? Plasma weapons are rare, sometimes very old or even ancient, so it's not like a prevalence of Plasma weapons suddenly creates a far more lethal game (or maybe it does and I'm just blowing smoke…idk). I suppose if you considered the possibility of Eldar Star Cannons it could be a lethal prospect. But what TT Marine player hasn't blanched at the sight of Star Cannons (at least in the 3rd Ed. Codex…). And Plasma weapons have a specific battlefield role, mainly to combat heavy infantry and light armour (Rhinos, Chimeras, etc.), so upping their Damage, represented by skilled and trained wielders, seems reasonable.
Tau weapons such as Pulse Rifles, which utilize plasma technology and have Penetration values of 4-6, suddenly look more appropriate in terms of their power.
So, back to Melta weapons.
What if the same principle was applied to Melta weapons?
With Penetration values of 4, 8, or 12, I don't think it's unreasonable that a Melta weapon could do an additional 12 Damage (the Infernus Pistol), or an additional 36 Damage (the Multi-Melta) with enough DoS. AND, what if this same principle was applied to the current "fix"? An Infernus Pistol at Short Range would have Pen8, and with enough DoS would do an additional 24 points of Damage. A Multi-Melta would have Pen 24, and do an additional 72 points of Damage. Now we're cookin' with melta!
Other factors that I took into consideration were Range, RoF, and Weapon Qualities. Plasma weapons have the edge with Range and RoF. Melta weapons have the edge with Weapons Quality (Melta, double Pen at Short Range). as a GM, I would consider removing the Blast Quality from the Multi-Melta and adding it to the Plasma Cannon (making the PC Blast), and that should bring everything into focus, as far as what we know from "fluff" and TT about these types of weapons. I would also consider capping ammo supplies for Plasma and Melta weapons. I know the BRB says that Marines carry enough ammo for an entire Mission, but I think this was meant to reference Boltgun and Bolt Pistol ammo, not canisters filled with volatile pressurized fuel.
The Heavy Bolter is great vs. Hordes.
The Plasma Gun is (now) better vs. heavy infantry and light armour.
The Meltagun is (now) better against heavy armour.
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Since these rules have been implemented in our game for some time now, I thought I'd offer some feedback of my own.
Oaths and the Abilities assigned to them have become something my Players consider with care. Dig In, for instance…
The Kill team are facing Tau forces in an extremely disadvantageous setting. Their Oath offers them the Squad Mode Ability, Dig In, and using the scant cover provided by vertical pipe bundles the Kill-Team are doubling their cover AP to 14. A Tau Plasma Blaster (2d10+9, Pen 10, Tearing) would have hit the Tactical Marine in the head had he not Dodged. The Stealth Suit got 4 DoS on its WS Test, which would have added 10 to the Damage (so 2d10+19, Pen 10, Tearing). The Damage rolled was 8, 6, and 9, so 17+19. He would have received 4 AP for the cover (reduced from 14 due to Pen), and 8 from his helmet (and another 4 for his TB…but we are using TB/Armour/Wounds House Rules that I've shared in the Dark Heresy forum), so he would have taken 20 points of Damage (leaving him with 12 Wounds). In this particular scenario, plasma weapons have shown their ability to cut through heavily armoured opponents, a result of applying the Plasma Weapons House Rule. The Tactical Marine himself is wielding a Plasma Gun, so he may turn the tables on the Stealth Suit…
Supporting the Stealth Suit is a Mag 20 Horde of Gun Drones. Pulse Carbines (also plasma weapons) are d10+12, Pen 4. The Horde is +10 to hit due to Range, and an additional +20 to hit for their networked intelligence (consider it the Horde Trait Focused Fire), and have a base BS of 25, giving the Horde the possibility of doing 3d10+16, Pen 4. The Devastator is on Overwatch, so I think the Drone Horde may disintegrate before it actually gets a chance to inflict that on anyone…
Six or seven individual Drones can now be as much a menace to the KT as a Horde of them. They'd have a networked intelligence BS of 35-37, and each Drone could possibly inflict d10+16, Pen 4, with armour and TB alone mitigating up to 12 points of Damage.
If you have any specific questions about any of this I'll be happy to answer them.
How is an Inferno Pistol only Pen 4? I thought it was Pen 8, like the meltagun, but had 10m shorter range and a smaller clip.
Other than that it looks good. I've never particularly liked FFGs interpretation of plasma and melta weaponry. Plasma in particular seemed pretty far off from what you would expect from TT.
How is an Inferno Pistol only Pen 4?
Gah! You're correct. I inadvertently looked at the Clip category. Still, it wouldn't change anything for the House Rules, though.
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