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Powerfists, how to use them?
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Old 23 Sep 2006, 02:53   #1 (permalink)
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Default Powerfists, how to use them?

Well earlier I had been considering the various ways to employ power fists so I decided to make a thread on the subject as there are more applications than meets the eye. For instance lets go into all the various places we have them split into the various FOC categories.


Commander: The commander can take a power fist if he should chose. Of course this negates his high I5 however I recently got to considering. The commander can take a power weapon and a power fist and chose which to strike with. Alternately a thunder hammer (a counts as power fist with extra abilities) would ensure that in following combat phases the opponent (if a MC or other multi wound nemesis) continues to strike with the commander instead of at its normal (and certainly higher) initiative.

Chaplain: The chaplain comes with a power weapon already but there is even a model with a power fist in addition, like the commander the chaplain can chose which to strike with and can be defencive or he can attack and strikes with re-rolls to hit on the charge and then the nice strength of the power fist it makes good use of all those attacks against a nice tough target.

Librarian: The librarian again comes with his own type of power weapon base that has a nice ability to slay an opponent outright so the power fist is not so great here as other aplications but it still can be taken.


Terminators: Regular termies have power fists base and assault terminators can have thunder hammers. Both units have their advantages and disadvantages but this is one way to get a lot of power fists should you desire, thousand sons beware. However there is no need to go over their various tactical applications thats its own descussion in itself.

Veterans: A Veteran squad can get 2 power fists, one on the sergeant and another as one of its special weapon options. A pair of lightning claws can also be taken but nevertheless it is possible to get 2 power fists. With the furious charge or tank hunters those power fists can do some serious damage. With the tank hunters skill those are a ton of strength 9 hits against a vehicle that can be anything from a sentinal or dreadnaught to a Land Raider or Hammerhead. Plus there are a number of other vets to die before you start losing those power fists and other weapons unlike Terminators where every loss is a lot of points.

Dreadnaught: A DCCW is in essence a power fist only dreadnaught sized. Nice and punchy this is a way to get some very strong cc attacks for insta killing and armor hunting purposes.

Techmarine: The techmarine has one (or two if with full servo harness) servo arms. Each one has its own attack and is in essence a power fist. This is a real benefit as the Techmarine can still strike at his normal initiative but still has between one and two power fist attacks in addition. An unexpected place for power fist attacks but not bad considering the model in question does not sacrifice hsi initiative to use them.


Tactical Squad: The sergeant if given terminator honors may select a power fist. This power fist can have as many as 4 attacks on the charge and has a whole squad of men to die before the fist is lost. A common place for burried power fists.

Scout Squad: This is an unexpected one but while many people dont do this it is possible to make the scout sergeant a vet serg and give him a power fist. Infiltrating can get the sergeant close to use his fist to do some damage to a selected target. Not cheap and not well armored but nevertheless an option not often taken and another choice.

Fast Attack:

Assault Squad: This is commonly seen, a power fist on assault sergeants is a common enough site and one we are all probably familiar with so no need to go into much detail.

Bike Squadron: The sergeant of a bike squadron can also be a vet and have a power fist. With turbo charging giving an invulnerable save and the extra toughness of the bike this is a good place to stick a fast moving power fist.

Scout Bike Squadron: Again a little seen option but the sergeant of a bike squadron can (as you can guess) take a power fist. With the scouts rule this squad can get their extra move, their normal move and charge. Thats a fairly good chance of catching a unit in assault on turn 1 and that means power fist attacks should the player chose to equip their sergeant with one.

Heavy Support:

Devastators: Dev sergeants can take power fists if upgraded to vet sergeants of course like all other infantry squads. Devs arent normally given a power fist sergeant for its points but it could be useful if say a nasty assasine character tries to lock up and kill your heavy support.

So those are all the places we can take them. In short its every infantry squad or biker the space marines have. Any marine army could have quite a few power fists in the force, not cheap but now lets look at the uses of a power fist and its pros and cons.

The Power Fist

The power fist doubles its wearers strength as any marine player knows. However it also drops the users Initiative to a measly 1. Which means even Firewarriors strike first... ouch. However at a normal str 8 that can insta kill any T3 or 4 multi wound characters and helps ensure that walkers or MCs dont bash through squads without being taken down. A Power Fist can put a nice dent in any armored vehicle and smash down most creatures fairly well. Sergeants wielding fists is one of the most common aplications because of its safety. The power fist is in essence burried in squads of men to make sure it lasts and the points investment is not wasted. However I dont often see marine armies taking more than a couple power fists despite their uses so lets look at some of their pros listed.


Characters: Characters are often used to assault infantry squads and use their excelent abilities to cut up the poor soldiers without much resistance. However a sergeant with a power fist only needs to inflict one wound to insta kill any character of T4 or less. Assasines, Marine and Chaos characters, Battlesuits and many more can be smashed down.

Monsterous Creatures: A charge from a monsterous creature can be very intimidating. This is usually because the MC will have a good save and a high toughness meaning most attacks that do land a blow wont actually inflict a wound and will then be saved. This means that an infantry squad can be torn to pieces before they can seriously wound their attacker. A power fist however wounds much easier thanks to its high strength and of course as a power weapon negates the good/great saves most MCs will have. Avatars, Greater Daemons, Carnifexs, Hive Tyrants are all nasty threats that any squad of Marines could face and make their day very bad indeed. A power fist can turn the tide and send the MC packing.

Walkers: Playing Tau my greatest frustration would be if a Dreadnaught or other walker assaulted my battlesuits as it would mean usually insta killed suits and no way out of the combat and no chance of even striking back. But Tau arent the only ones who can be cought so. Tac squads, Dev squads and many more all suffer from the possibility of being cought by such a machine and without krak grenades or melta bombs have no way to strike back. That is unless the squad has a power fist or thunder hammer. While marines fall one good blow can finish the attacker and save as many members of the squad as possible so they can get back to the task at hand. Its a shame to lose an expencive squad of marines without them having any way to strike back.

Multi Wound Enemies: There are actually a surprising number of enemies with multiple wounds. Tau Battlesuits, Tyranids of various kinds, Thousand Sons rubric marines and more. These units can mean a long drawn out battle as the marines try to bring down their foes. Where normally four wounds inflicted would mean four dead enemy troops against Thousand Sons thats only 2 dead marines. But four wounds against your marines and well thats four dead. Despite the higher cost of such multi wound units they can still drag down a marine squad fairly well over time and take a lot longer to kill unless of course the multiple attacks of a sergeant or other marine with a power fist negates those multi wounds through insta kill.

Armor: A tank in the way can mean a big problem. Battle cannons can be scary for marine squads and so can the heavy weapons toted by any number of armored opponents. Predators, Falcons, and all sorts of other armored craft to be found throughout the game can pose a problem to marines and an armored hull in the way can force a marine squad to take the long rout. Even a humble rhino can effectively block off a squad of marines by simply sitting in the way. Normally even the lightest of armored vehicles would be difficult for marines to take down but a power fist or two can change that. Krak grenades and melta bombs are all good but with one attack for each model thats not a great chance but with a sergeant or vet with 4 attacks thats another story and can greatly increase your chances of downing that tank or vehicle that bars your path or is shooting up your forces.


Expence: Power fists are not cheap, terminators and characters are not by any means inexpencive and for vet sergeants your paying for terminator honors first and then the fist itself. Thunder Hammers are even more expencive. Having more than a few fists in your army can get very pricey indeed and a balance of how many to have and where can be very tricky.

Initiative: Power fists drop the Initiative of the wielder significantly in many cases. Striking last can be the doom of the wielder if things turn bad. If you dont get to strike at all those high strength attacks arent doing you any good.

Getting There: Getting a power fist wielding unit to its target can be tricky and deciding whether its a good idea to spend points to place one on a unit that is not going to be rushing to a target can also be a problem. Assault Marines and Bikes are good ways of getting across the field quickly and a line of terminators can center a defence nicely and of course bring a bunch of power fist attacks to the battle if disaster should strike your line in the form of a walker or nasty character. But placing and moving such units into position is not always easy. Bikes and assault marines arent cheap and are not numerous in many cases and a single misplacement in movement can bring disaster as they get shot to pieces or charged by an enemy far more proficient in close combat than they are. Burried power fists are also not always a good bet as a character or MC can place its charge carefully to make sure that the fist wielding model is not in range of the combat and could well cut the unit to pieces long before that fist ever gets a chance to swing.

So all in all how useful are Power Fists? Do their costs and downsides justify their benefits? Well thats whats up for descussion, what do you the marine players of Tau online think of the oversized gauntlets that are power fists? What units do you find are best to take fists in?

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Old 23 Sep 2006, 03:32   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Powerfists, how to use them?

umm...you know a P.Fist always strikes last, regardless of modifiers or cover.

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Old 23 Sep 2006, 04:59   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Powerfists, how to use them?

Ah right, modified but that doesnt change much at all really only the earliest bit with the HQs. Is that the only comment you have to give?

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Old 23 Sep 2006, 09:03   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Powerfists, how to use them?

Great guide on Powerfists! That's what we want to see in this board. Articles, guides and stuff like that.

+1 Karma given

The last bit in the article is especially interesting about the pros/cons and the conclusion.

My experience with powerfists is that I would steer away with them on your HQ Characters. I use Powerfists on Tactical squad Veteran Sergeants and Assault squad Veteran Sergeants. This is the best place for the Power fists, able to sneak into CC and deal out some nasty high strength dead. In the squad they are also pretty save from having get your Veteran killed. Also Terminators and Dreadnoughts already come packed with them and they are able to use them the right way. But I don't really use them that much.

I would like to hear other peoples experience with power fists.
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Old 23 Sep 2006, 09:30   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Powerfists, how to use them?

I see no reason to take a powerfist on bikes. Against any unit that requires a pfist to hurt, you are unlikely to have any bikes left in btb by the time Initiative 1 comes around. For vehicle hunting it is cheaper to get a humble melta bomb.
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Old 23 Sep 2006, 13:26   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Powerfists, how to use them?

Actually, I really like the idea of a powerfist wielding scout bike squad, mainly for the reason pointed out in the article. With the Scouts rule you can pretty reliably get into CC on first turn, and almost guarantee being in CC by the second. You're right Raptor, against anything you need a powerfist for, you'll probably run low on men before it's useful, but there are plenty of non CC units that you can crash your bikes into. A minimised squad only costs ~120 points and if you can disrupt the enemy lines and take out an equal number of points, it's well worth it IMO.

Vash also forgot to mention the command squad, which basically works like the tactical, or terminator squad, but gets to cruise around with the HQ. This can have an especially nice synergy because the high Int. HQ can be trying to take out threats that might endanger the much slower Power Fist wielding Veteran.

I can see a Librarian using a Thunder Hammer/Force weapon combo in larger point games where he can afford Veil of Time and some form of Invulnerable save as well. On the turn he charges the Librarian can use the Veil of Time and Thunder Hammer to score some early wounds in a Daemon Lord/Hive Tyrant/Other huge baddie while using the Veil of Time and Invulnerable save to make sure he can make it to the second round. Then during the enemies turn, when he can't use the Veil, switching back over to the Force weapon in order to use the higher Int. and hopefully score the wounds necessary to finish the Monstrous creature off. If combat moves on to the next round, then the Libby switches back to the Thunder Hammer and Veil of Time (it can only be used on your turn, and if you use it, you can't use the Force weapons Force effect). It's an expensive strategy, but it's downright deadly.

For the most part I think Powerfists are worth it on squads that are expecting to see CC, particularly larger squads. Barring a few exceptions, such as with the Scout Bikes, I usually only take Powerfists in maximized squads to make sure it lasts long into combat.

On units such as Dev squads or shooty Tact squads, I avoid them, simply because they're not looking to get into a fight and I don't like relying on the enemy to charge me.

From a statistical standpoint, they're usually pay for themselves after a round or two of CC against MEQs, because one Powerfist is pointwise worth about two MEQs, and so after just two kills it's "paid" for itself; everything else is gravy. But this also means that the squad has to get into CC, and has to be capable of killing at least two models before going down.

Against GEQs, its less helpful (than it was against MEQs) but still handy to have, because it will rack up a lot of kills on its own. The reason that it's less helpful is that GEQs go down a lot easier and the Power Fist needs to kill many more in order to win back it's cost.

So, generally speaking, two giant thumbs up for the powerfist.

+1 Karma given for providing some good examples and ways on how to use the Powerfist - Stam
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Old 23 Sep 2006, 13:52   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Powerfists, how to use them?

Personally, I actually prefer power weapons. I have many tools for destroying tanks and walkers, not least my beloved assault squad. I find that some weapons/units can be equipped and/or upgraded to handle both infantry and tanks with equal ease. But I just don't think powerfist equipped veteran sergeants are a good example of this; if your tank busting power is limited to assault range then you really need fast moving bikes or assault troops to make the most of it (and in the case of the latter you can have meltabombs for that anyway).

Obviously Meltabombs are of no use against monsterous creatures, but I've yet to face an army that fields more than a couple monsterous creatures, so my experience in that area is limited. But with 'tank hunting' missile launchers and plasma guns lurking about, and with assault cannon-toting Dreadnoughts, Termies and Land Speeders doing their thing (not to mention the Lascannon's various guises), I find powerfists as tank-hunting weapons to be largely redundant.

All that said, I still field Powerfists in place of power weapons in my tac squads because I think they just look so much cooler! Also, I prefer to avoid an excess of identical weapons and units throughout my army, so paying for the odd powerfist helps impose a little variety.
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Old 23 Sep 2006, 14:29   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Powerfists, how to use them?

Just wonderful ... a great read. Allo through out a few mor thoughts ...

As an additional note every reason to have Furious Charge with PFs Sound strange? Use it in your Terminators command squads. A Termie command squad can have three PF's and one PW, plus your I5 IC. For 15 points,
you're giving your character and your Power Weapon sgt a plus to BOTH I and S.
The iniative boost doesn't help the PF's, but the strength bonus helps.

It is interesting to note what vet skills can work well with PFs. Apart from
furious charge, you mention infiltrating scout squads. In fact any squad
that infiltrates benefits from PFS. For instance, most of my csm get
Powerfists, because I find hard-hitting "ambush" tactics effective.

If you are assaulted while shooting up tanks and transports, the counter-attack ability means that all of your powerfists will get into base-to-base contact; even Dreadnoughts and Hive Tyrants should respect that.

Another overloked choce for Pfs in the Lost and the Damned armies.
DO upgrade to a boss with powerfist + (untargetable) Aspiring Champ with Powerfist. That's a lot of hidden PF attacks.

On another note against certain arimes powerfists can be near useless, eg., Kroot.
Agaist other amies PFs are essential, eg., wraithlord killers, popping 'crons and
Tyranid monstrous creatures.

However,its unllikely you will too many armies where the PF is wasted. So yes.
-Powerfists > Power weapons > (T-hammers, L.Claws) for squad leaders.
Powerfists and Power weapons are both equally viable but Powerfists would
seem to be more useful to serve the function of the 5 man squad while a
power weapon would be more valuable in a large swirling assault.
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Old 23 Sep 2006, 16:13   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: Powerfists, how to use them?

Good summation Vash,

The powerfist is quite simply the holy grail of close combat for Imperial forces. The thunder hammer is simply the more fancy and expensive version of it. And lighting claws are an entirely different weapon. The powerfist is our `do it all' combat weapon that allows us the flexibility to cause wounds to nearly everything in the game on a 2+. That's saying a lot, because this game is based on a humble D6. Throwing 4's all day will show you that it's so hit or miss that you could have caused more casualties just by throwing more normal attacks at the problem. But, we can't do that. We don't have hordes of models with hordes of attacks. So instead, we balance it out by having some serious quality attacks that hit hard every time. Grot? 2+. Monstrous Creature? 2+. You don't need a formula or expectancy chart. It's a 2+ and that's reliable. It's like having a meltagun in close combat, that gets 3 or 4 shots. That's insane when you think about it, compared to throwing a bolter with AP1 at something over and over. Strength wins. It only truly has one drawback and that's the initiative step. It's not that expensive (unless used on an ind. character), slightly more than a power weapon's cost. It's actually cheap compared to what it does, and how widely available it is to the Marines. The initiative draw back is negated by the squad too (again, not if you're an ind. character). So in the end, in most instances of use, it has very little negative points to it. There are times when it's not wise to have it, but in those moments, you're probably not going to do well no matter what weapon you have (such as a mob of Genestealers or Orks assaulting you, en masse).

(*exemptions: Wraithlord, Talos and C'tan)

You can really boil it down to two things:

Power Fist on Ind. Character - "Typical no-no."

Buried Power Fist on Squad Leader - "Giggiddy, Jack Pot!"

An untargetable buried powerfist, in most instances, negates the draw back of the initiative 1 modifier. The power of the attack is still as potent as ever. Everything else about it, is pure advantage. The only other slight drawback is that the character will be moving as fast as his squad will, so that's a limiting variable.

-- One last tip that I would include, is that power fists can be `dodged' in many ways by enemy assaulters. We do it ourselves here in Space Marines as well. We simply stay out of the 2" kill zone, by assaulting from the wider angle where there's more room and less chance of being included in that powerfist's attack range. We often employ that with ind. characters of our own, who we are avoiding instant death with. Another issue here, is that a very mobile character with a great number of attacks can typically get enough pressure in one point to include your powerfist wielding squad leader in their killzone and have them removed before they can attack. This is a problem as well, and one that is common if you're facing, again, fast moving ind. characters built for killing your infantry. A great trick to have, for these kinds of problems (because if you're facing speed lords for example, or lightning claws jump pack character, it is a problem) is if you have access to it, to use Counter Attack. Counter attack is a vet skill that is more useful than many give it credit, when facing enemies with your powerfists. It gives you more control on that buried powerfist. It allows it to be in range of a clever assault character, who otherwise was avoiding you. It allows you to further bury and conceal that powerfist if an aggressive assaulter was gunning for your powerfist, on the contrary. Counter attack literally removes the drawbacks and makes your buried powerfist the perfect weapon. Very useful when available if you are facing opponents who use those kinds of tactics against you, to nullify or diminish the use of your powerfists.

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