Blast weapons and scatter II

13 May 2009 | 5th Edition

This continues the Blast weapons and scatter article, and looks at how models' base sizes can affect the result of blast marker scatter and the weapons effectiveness.

Now this might seem a trivial issue to look at, but consider that as now any part of a base under a blast marker counts as a hit, then it's worth having a look at this in a bit more detail.

The relationship between the size of the base and the blast template being used means that actually despite scatter in some cases the marker will still cover a portion of a model's base — resulting in a hit.

3. Scatter and model base sizes

25mm bases and the 3" blast marker

As most infantry models are on these 25mm bases we'll start with them. Remember what we are looking at here is the mitigation of scatter by the base itself when measured to the edge of the blast marker. So the chart below shows this relationship as well as the 'average' raw scatter distance.

In this instance we will take the radius of the small base as being 0.5":

Scatter with the 25mm bases and the 3" blast marker
BS Max scatter distance Average scatter distance Distance of marker edge from original target base edge
0 12 7 5.0
1 11 6 4.0
2 10 5 3.0
3 9 4 2.0
4 8 3 1.0
5 7 2 0 (touches base edge)
6 6 1 -1.0 (remains over base)

Well we can see from the above that no real change here from that shown in the previous article, as no additional models are hit — but the BS5 firer's avarage 3" blast marker touches the edge of a 25mm base — compare that to the 2" average 'raw' scatter and you will see what I'm getting at here.

40mm bases and the 3" blast marker

Next up, the 40mm base. In this instance we will take the radius of this base as being 0.75":

Scatter with the 40mm bases and the 3" blast marker
BS Max scatter distance Average scatter distance Distance of marker edge from original target base edge
0 12 7 4.75
1 11 6 3.75
2 10 5 2.75
3 9 4 1.75
4 8 3 0.75
5 7 2 -0.25 (remains over base)
6 6 1 -1.25 (remains over base)

We can see from the above that a BS5 and 6 firer's average scatter remains covering a portion of the base at average scatter, resulting in a hit.

25mm bases and the 5" blast marker

Now we'll try the same operation with the 25mm base against the 5" blast marker. In this instance we will take the radius of this base as being 0.5":

Scatter with the 25mm bases and the 5" blast marker
BS Max scatter distance Average scatter distance Distance of marker edge from original target base edge
0 12 7 4.0
1 11 6 3.0
2 10 5 2.0
3 9 4 1.0
4 8 3 0 (touches base edge)
5 7 2 -1 (remains over base)
6 6 1 -2 (remains over base)

We can see from the above that on average scatter a BS4 firer's blast marker edge will touch the edge of models on 25mm bases. While BS5 and 6 will get hits.

40mm bases and the 5" blast marker

OK so now a Terminator base up against the larger blast marker results in this:

Scatter with the 40mm bases and the 5" blast marker
BS Max scatter distance Average scatter distance Distance of marker edge from original target base edge
0 12 7 3.75
1 11 6 2.75
2 10 5 1.75
3 9 4 0.75
4 8 3 -0.25 (remains over base)
5 7 2 -1.25 (remains over base)
6 6 1 -2.25 (remains over base)

From the above we see that an average scatter from a BS4 firer remains over the base of the target resulting in a hit. So too with BS5 and 6 firers.

4. What can we glean from these results?

So after all this measuring we can see that on average, scatter isn't that bad. Yes it depends on the size of the blast marker being used as well as the base size that the model is mounted on. Meaning firing 3" blast markers at normal infantry models won't be as accurate as using the bigger one at 40mm-based models.

And also note that in all these examples we are shooting at a single model. If the target model is part of a larger unit (and placed centrally within it), scatter becomes even less of an isssue. Also scatter can be palyed as an advantage if the shot scatters onto another unit

I realise that this isn't a particularly scientific evaluation — after all we are relying on averages here not real results.

6 things to remember

If after reading through all this, what does it all boil down to? If nothing else gets remembered from this then at least take these things from it, common sense really:

  • A BS2 Ork has exactly the same chance of a Hit! on the scatter dice as does BS5 Sammael: 1/3 or 33% if you prefer.
  • Even after scattering an average of 3", a BS4+ 5" blast template will still hit its intended target.
  • Even after scattering an average of 2", a BS5+ 3" blast template will still hit its intended target.
  • Shoot at big units / vehicles.
  • Shoot at tightly packed areas of the batlefield.
  • Don't be afraid of the dreaded scatter.

and…

5. Visit the armoury

So the facts are laid bare now how to maximise on blast weapons. The most obvious method is to put blast weapons onto higher BS models — the problem for Marine armies is that there is only one man-portable blast weapon available to BS5 models and that's the Master of the Forge's Conversion Beamer from Codex Space Marines.

However there are also two characters with neat special skills: Torias Telion's BS6 can be conferred to one member of his squad, and Sergeant Chronus' BS5 can be used by the vehicle he is assigned to. Both these offer great potential for the blast markers' accuracy.

For Unforgiven armies there is Sammael on his Jetbike — capable of some very accurate ranged sniping with his plasma cannon.

For other Marine units, it's missile launchers in Tac squads, and massed plasma cannons or missile launchers for Devastator squads. Techmarine Gun servitors with plasma cannons look good (if expensive) at BS4 for the Unforgiven. And if you're going the whole hog then plasma cannons on Dreadnoughts (remember no overheat here) coupled with a missile launcher left arm. The Codex Space Marine's Venerable Dread is BS5 by the way, so looks a good chassis for a plasma cannon to me.

One weapon not mentioned yet is the Cyclone missile launcher. Used with C:SM it is a very effective weapon choice indeed with good reach and kill potential. Used with C:DA however being single-shot lessens its effectiveness greatly.

Tank-wise: Vindicators, Whirlwinds and the Helios Land Raider, the latter two better when fired using line of sight of course.

Another great aspect to blast weapons is that generally they are reasonably priced point for point against other weapons. OK so they aren't going to stop many Monoliths, but they will knock holes in any infantry or horde-based army — which is kinda the point of using them.

Have some blasted fun.


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