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Plasma or Melta - which do you use?
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Old 19 Oct 2006, 14:20   #1 (permalink)
Shas'Ui
 
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Default Plasma or Melta - which do you use?

Let's start a discussion on the relative merits of plasma and meltas and how best to use them. We know that they are commonly used in drop lists and I will not bother to post any lists as they can be found on other threads e.g., our thread on 'successful space marine lists'. I'm more interested in the composition of the squads you use and your rationales for them. Here is briefly some of my views on the pros and cons of both ...

Melta is more offensive and Plasma is more defensive.
Let us start with that as a basic premise.

Meltas

- Meltas work well in squads of ten

- Meltas are assault guns not rapid fire guns

- Meltas are useful in adavancing squads at mid-range

- meltas are best as anti-tank

- You must take combi to grab a melta on a sargeant

- Multi-meltas get one strength shot which only beats the lascannon if it is within 12 inches

- Squads get the melta guns as it's a nice close support vehicle
killer.


Plasmas

- Plasmas work well in smaller squads of six with transport, drop pods etc.

- Plasma squads are used as sniping special weapons squads

- Plasmas can blow up

- Plasma guns cost less, plus have more range, plasma cannons have greater range and are a blast weapon

- You must take combi to grab a melta, and plasma guns cost less, plus have more range, plasma cannons have greater range and are a blast weapon whilst multi meltas get one sraigth shot which only beats the lascannon if it is within 12 inches (note that they are the same price)

- Plasma have more dakka. Always double tap them

- Plasma is best at anti-personel

- You can load out my dreadnaught with a Plasma Cannon, avoiding
overheat

- You can mastercraft the sergeant's plasma pistol. then he may reroll misses

Just for fun ... Dark Angels

HQ-
Chaplain, melta bombs, plasma pistol, frag grenades

Elite-333
3x -Plasma Cannon Dreads

Fast Attack-
3x -Land Speeder, multi melta

Troops-
4x -Tactical Squad(5), plasma cannon, plasma gun

Heavy-
3x Dev Squad(5), 4 plasma cannons
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Old 19 Oct 2006, 17:13   #2 (permalink)
Shas'O
 
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Default Re: Plams or Melta - which do you use?

Hmmm...I guess you're in the Plasma gun camp then?

Me, I'm a Meltagun man. Mostly because I think they look cool. My fire support squads take plasma, but I prefer to get into close combat as soon as possible so I take a lot of close-quarters equipped tac squads and the Meltagun is my weapon of choice for that. I use the odd flamer now and then in my assaulty tac squads, but mostly meltas because these squads carry no heavy weapons and the ability to kill a tank with such a unit makes them wonderfully flexible. Especially when there are several such units on the table, working their way down-field; enemy vehicles have nowhere to go!
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Old 19 Oct 2006, 18:39   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Plams or Melta - which do you use?

I prefer the plasma. I have other things in my army to take heavy armor.

While the marine may just nuke himself once in a while the amount of shots I get far exceeds it potential.

I do use some meltaguns in some of my unit but those are dedicated for heavy armor only.

WT
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Old 19 Oct 2006, 18:53   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Plams or Melta - which do you use?

[size=12pt]Melta tech or Plasma tech ~ Over Specialization or Flexibility[/size]

Heya,

Simply put, Plasma is the proverbial man. It overheats as a drawback because it is so utterly powerful. It's the single most flexible weapon we have (plasmaguns, not plasma cannons). When I have a choice between pure tank hunting and everything else, I take plasma for everything. I even take plasma for pure tank hunting very often. The only other real drawback besides over heating is that I can't assault after I fire them from my normal Marine squads, but this is often not a big deal since my first shots are usually going to happen after I just disembarked from something, such as a Drop Pod. Plasmaguns kill Gaunts and Orks better than a Bolter and that very same gun and can turn around and kill Terminators and Monstrous creatures better than a bolter. Meltaguns on the other hand don't have this flexibility. A meltagun will kill one model at best, and sometimes, won't even do that due to missing the shot or failing the wound. Single powerful hits are powerful, but the lack of dice rolling catches up with them. Meltaguns for pure anti-tank are good for it, but there are limitations. They're not going to catch most fast moving threats like skimmers, and will generally only glance them anyways. Transports usually are under an effect that makes them glance only, be it smoke launchers or a skimmer moving fast, continually making that meltagun less and less effective. And against penetrable tanks, the meltagun is only actually king of armor penetration when you're right up on it, and get your 2D6 penetration. Without that added penetration dice, the lascannon beats you. And the tank hunting lascannon outclasses you quite a bit. Within melta range though, with 2D6, you're average roll is 15 so you will penetrate on average. Unfortunately it requires a lot of things to be in your favor in the situation and isn't reliable. Plasma simply carries flexibility. But let's explore it all in a bit more detail.

** Skip down if youíre not interested in the `whyí of my weapon choice, and simply look to the bottom of this post.**

[hr]

[size=12pt]Melta tech[/size]

Meltaguns don't mix well with a lot of weapons due to the range and intended target types. They just don't have a synergy with another gun in our list. The problem is, we only get one in typical squads and require a trait to get two together, except of course less accessible units like command squads, etc. Without that trait, our meltaguns are just a single short range shot that rarely see's it's target, mixed with a heavy weapon in a squad that is not going to move. So the melta is a rotten choice there; a flamer being superior typically as it's better equipped for the types of enemies who literally come to you. That's a generalized statement of course, but it's just to make a point about how the melta isn't useful sitting in a team with a heavy weapon that will take a more important role typically.

Utility of Melta Tech

We already know the basic idea of meltas. They break tanks. They break heads. But are they truly effective at all of this and are there other things that are simply better? Let's look at a few situations and see how the melta stands up.

~ Penetrable Armor ~

A single meltagun at 12" range can penetrate armor still, thanks to the AP1 value. But unless it's up close, we don't receive our 2D6 penetration roll, for being a melta, which quickly diminishes the total usefulness of the weapon for tank busting, compared to other more ranged weapons or higher rate of fire weapons.

* Note, I'm only going to make examples of A12, 13 and 14 for meltas because they don't do a better job at lower armor values. The following averages are rounded, so may not be exact. They're merely intended to give you an idea of your total average chance, which includes hitting and penetrating something.
[size=7pt]
Melta (outside of 6") vs A12 :: 33% total chance on average to penetrate something; or glance it if `glance-only.'
Melta (inside of 6") vs A12 :: 55% total chance on average to penetrate something; or glance it if `glance-only.'
Melta (outside of 6") vs A13 :: 22% total chance on average to penetrate something; or glance it if `glance-only.'
Melta (inside of 6") vs A13 :: 48% total chance on average to penetrate something; or glance it if `glance-only.'
Melta (outside of 6") vs A14 :: 11% total chance on average to penetrate something; or glance it if `glance-only.'
Melta (inside of 6") vs A14 :: 39% total chance on average to penetrate something; or glance it if `glance-only.'

* For sake of comparison, let's look at a lascannon.

Lascannon vs A12 :: 44% total chance on average to glance; 33% chance to penetrate if penetrable.
Lascannon vs A13 :: 33% total chance on average to glance; 22% chance to penetrate if penetrable.
Lascannon vs A14 :: 22% total chance on average to glance; 11% chance to penetrate if penetrable.

-- Right away, notice that the Lascannon and Melta are very close when used at range. It's only when the meltagun is within 6" of a vehicle that it has a higher rate truly. And all of that is still subject to the fact that the lascannon does it from 48" away, compared to 12" or less away. That means, the lascannon simply is better, because it's far more likely to be possible to happen, than the meltagun, more often during the game.
[/size]
Your overall odds to break higher armor within 2D6 melta range indeed means the melta is fantastic at penetrating. But, without your 2D6 penetration, it's not that spectacular and if you're glancing, well, you're not getting the most out of your gun.

We know we can penetrate armor if the armor is penetrable, but here is where the real problem starts: getting there. Delivering a meltagun to within 6" of the intended target is not easy. It requires things such as the vehicle actually simply coming to you, or a transport taking you to the vehicle and surviving the trip over, or it requires something like a Drop Pod which may or may not put you within range to use your melta at its fullest. So while the weapon is great at penetrating up close, it's rather difficult to get that close with! This is often times the killing factor of a weapon, and in this, is the killing factor of the meltagun. Quite simply, we have better means from longer ranges to take care of higher armor values making the meltagun not quite as important.

Now, we could up the penetration power of our Meltaguns via veteran skills such as `Tank Hunters' which would basically increase the strength of the metalgun to Str9, the very same as a meltagun. At this point, the meltagun is better than a Lascannon even when outside of 6" range from the vehicle and not receiving the added penetration roll. Unfortunately, it's still only a single shot and it costs quite a bit. And for comparison, a lascannon with tank hunters at Str10 at long range still beats the meltagun (because it's long range and has the same odds to glance/penetrate). The point was just to make sure that we know we at least have the ability to increase the power of the meltagun via that veteran skill.

~ Causing Wounds ~

Aside from penetrating armor values, the meltagun is of course also used to kill various creatures in the 40k environment. Anything from a lowly grot to a towering wraithlord. Unfortunately, our weapon is often times wasted if we're not using it to kill something that a bolter wasn't already killing better or more of in it's place, for less points. Meltaguns are great against specific enemies though, such as Necrons or multi-wound models that have an instant-death toughness value of 4. But anything lower than that and it starts to be less and less useful compared to even a bolter.
[size=7pt]
Melta (@12") vs T3 / Any armor save :: 55% total chance on average to cause a wound. Instant-death for T3 models if wound is caused.
Melta (@12") vs T4 / Any armor save :: 55% total chance on average to cause a wound. Instant-death for T4 models if wound is caused.
Melta (@12") vs T5, T6 / Any armor save :: 55% total chance on average to cause a wound.
Melta (@12") vs T7 / Any armor save :: 44% total chance on average to cause a wound.
Melta (@12") vs T8 / Any armor save :: 33% total chance on average to cause a wound.

* For sake of comparison, let's look at a bolter at 12" range, rapid-firing--ie, two shots.

Bolter (@12") vs T3 / 5+, 6+ armor save :: 88% total chance on average to cause a wound.
Bolter (@12") vs T3 / 4+ armor save :: 44% total chance on average to cause a wound.
Bolter (@12") vs T3 / 3+ armor save :: 30% total chance on average to cause a wound.
Bolter (@12") vs T3 / 2+ armor save :: 15% total chance on average to cause a wound.
--- When firing at something T3 with worse than a 3+ save, we're typically better off with just bolters.

Bolter (@12") vs T4 / 5+, 6+ armor save :: 66% total chance on average to cause a wound.
Bolter (@12") vs T4 / 4+ armor save :: 33% total chance on average to cause a wound.
Bolter (@12") vs T4 / 3+ armor save :: 22% total chance on average to cause a wound.
Bolter (@12") vs T4 / 2+ armor save :: 11% total chance on average to cause a wound.
--- When firing at something T4 with worse than a 4+ save, we're typically better off with just bolters, unless they have multiple wounds.
[/size]

Meltaguns will beat out a bolter when firing at something with T4 and higher, with good armor saves, such as 4+ or better and especially if they're T3 or T4 and have multiple wounds. That's all the above is meant to show. However, under that, the bolter is better. That's a little disheartening since a great deal of infantry out there are T3 with less than 4+ saves. Your bolters are better than meltaguns against half the basic troops in the game almost. That puts your meltagun into another category, where it's specialized to only kill certain things better than your normal guns. And you're paying extra points for that and you're losing effectiveness against other targets in the process as you over specialize.

~ What all that means ~

Meltaguns are excellent at penetrating the highest armor values when they are penetrable. Meltaguns are excellent at wounding and killing high toughness, high armor save models and can even make it easier via causing instant death to multi-wound models with a toughness value of 4 or less. The meltaguns is a very strong weapon. But the fatal flaw is the range requirement of the weapon in order to get maximum effectiveness from it, and the flaw of delivery which requires you to be close and that it is fielded generally on models that do not move that quickly, or are easily stopped from getting to their targets.

[size=11pt]The meltagun is excellent at what it's meant for, but is not excellent in application. It's over specialized.[/size]
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Old 19 Oct 2006, 18:54   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Plams or Melta - which do you use?

[size=12pt]Plasma tech[/size]

Plasma weaponry have great synergy with out other weapon types (due to range and number of shots if we move) and come in three main flavors, two of which are pretty good, while one is pretty poor by comparison, which weíll cover. Plasmaguns replace bolters and are better than the bolter at everything it does, be it killing weak infantry to killing powerful monstrous creatures and even vehicles. Plasma pistols do the same for bolt pistols. Plasma cannons unfortunately donít outclass other weapons, namely, the lascannon. Plasma cannons just arenít that great because their blast template limits most of their effectiveness for what youíre paying for. When it comes to dealing a single wound, the lascannon is better in every way and cheaper in many instances. The blast template is only useful against clumps of opponents, and even then, youíre subject to more dice rolling to see if partial hits count. All of this brings the effectiveness down and make it a rather unattractive weapon for its cost. However, the other plasma weapons are absolutely wonderful, not too expensive at all, and literally can `do it all.í

Utility of Plasma Tech

We already know what plasma is for. Plasma is for killing things with good armor saves. However, plasma is also good at killing everything aside from that. This includes the weak things that you didnít think a plasmagun should be used for. This also includes heavier armor values that you think a meltagun is better for. Plasma does all of this, for the same cost, with minor risks and a whole lot more flexibility. Letís explore that.

~ Penetrable Armor ~

Plasma weaponry is not immediately thought of as `anti-tankí by a lot of people, but a lot of times, it is used for just that. It literally can touch practically every vehicle in the game with relatively good odds, and can be pushed via traits even higher. The difference that puts Plasma into the realm of utility is that it has multiple shots, and against armor, acts just like an autocannon does from far away, only we have ways to make it better and we get to do this while moving.

* Note, the following will be based on 12Ē range and rapid-fire against all values. I will be using only the Plasma Gun for this example, because it is the most common type.
[size=7pt]
Plasma (@12Ē) vs A10 :: 89% total chance to glance; 67% total chance to penetrate.
Plasma (@12Ē) vs A11 :: 67% total chance to glance; 44% total chance to penetrate.
Plasma (@12Ē) vs A12 :: 44% total chance to glance; 22% total chance to penetrate.
Plasma (@12Ē) vs A13 :: 22% total chance to glance.

Penetrating A13 and glancing A14 requires the veteran skill Tank Hunters. Itís widely available to us, so we can make examples using it.

Plasma with Tank Hunters (@12Ē) vs A13 :: 44% total chance to glance; 22% total chance to penetrate.
Plasma with Tank Hunters (@12Ē) vs A14 :: 22% total chance to glance.


* Compare that to the average chances of the Meltagun and Lascannon above..

-- If you compared the single meltagun to the single plasmagun, youíll see that two shots make a pretty remarkable difference, even at less strength value and without the AP1 bonus. Multiple shots make a huge difference. Now, consider that you double this by taking two Plasmaguns. And consider that tank hunters is widely available to you. Itís just like walking with 4 strength 7 or strength 8 attacks, without and with tank hunters veteran skill, which isnít even required for most anti-tank work. These shots are deliverable first turn with infiltration at 24Ē range. Theyíre deliverable just like a meltagun is deliverable from moving transports and drop pods. But itís also deliverable by models with jump packs as well. We can get a lot of plasma all through the army on things that move.[/size]

Plasma still requires that we reach a target to use it. Thatís a downfall of all short range weapons. But plasma has the ability to be used commonly at 24Ē range as well as 12Ē range, and since we can effect most targets anyways, itís never being wasted. Weíre not over specializing a squad so that it must hunt tanks, or hunt infantry. Weíre simply buying the most flexible upgrade that is better at killing vehicles than you may have thought it was. And thatís the key difference in how Plasma tech allows you to go further than Melta tech.

Consider right away the most typical armor values you see in your games. Look at the average chances to glance and penetrate those values. Remember that it goes up with each weapon you take in a single squad. The plasmagun is going to lead it typically and doesnít require that extreme close range to be at maximum effectiveness. Unless you play against pure A14 and Monoliths, the Meltagun just doesnít do it even as well as Plasmaguns typically.

~ Causing Wounds ~

We think of Plasma tech right away as killing infantry with good armor saves, or even just for busting monstrous creatures quickly. We know that it works well. But again, the difference is that Plasma also works even better than meltas and bolters against even lesser creatures that you may think plasma is wasted upon, when really, itís not. Plasma simply doesnít get wasted and thatís why itís such a flexible weapon weapon, on top of its ability to outperform other weapons.

* Again, assume a plasmagun at 12Ē range that rapid-fires, meaning two shots.
[size=7pt]
Plasma (@12") vs T3, T4, T5 / Any armor save :: Two 55% chances on average to cause a wound. Instant-death for T3 models if wound is caused. This means nearly guaranteed.
Plasma (@12") vs T6 / Any armor save :: 88% chance on average to cause a wound.
Plasma (@12") vs T7 / Any armor save :: 67% chance on average to cause a wound.
Plasma (@12") vs T8 / Any armor save :: 44% chance on average to cause a wound.

-- Right away, notice itís better than bolters against weak T3 infantry. And notice this as well: itís better at wounding T8 than a meltagun. Plasmaguns are superior at all of these jobs.
[/size]

Just compare the normal odds of the bolter, meltagun and then look at the plasma odds again. Plasma does the jobs, both of them, better than both from T3 to T8, regardless of the armor save. Thatís the difference of multiple shots. More dice in this game, is simply going to work out more often.

~ What all that means ~

Looking at the odds, the Plasma technology simply is better cut for the game system than Melta technology is in most cases. What all of this tells us, is that plasma is better at wounding creatures and better at causing damage to tanks than a meltagun is in a typical game. The plasmagun is completely flexible in this manner and does all the same jobs and does them better. The drawback for such power is that we may lose a model doing it, but one has to remember that you have to fail that 3+ armor save when it over heats to lose something. Thatís a pretty good fail safe. You will burn. But that doesnít mean that you lose anything. Two out of three times, you simply `missedí when it comes to rolling that armor save due to overheating. So you shouldnít sweat this. Sweating plasma overheats is more appropriate on models with lesser armor saves, like storm troopers.

[size=11pt]Plasma is more flexible and better at almost all the jobs than the meltagun and doesnít suffer effectiveness due to not needing extremely close ranges to reach maximum effectiveness. Plasma is effective the moment you can hit something, unlike a melta and it synergizes with all heavy weapons since it is good at busting the tiniest of infantry to the hardest of tanks (subject only to A14 exemption, unless you have Tank Hunters, in which case you can hit it too).[/size]

[hr]

** If you skipped the above, hereís where you can start reading. **

Simply put:

I choose Plasma more often over meltaguns.

Plasma works better than meltguns at killing nearly all infantry. And bolters for that matter.
Plasma works better than meltaguns at causing damage to nearly all armor types.
Plasma can be more specialized to even take on the highest armor values through traits.

Plasma is simply better than meltaguns in way more ways in the game, than a meltagun is better than the plasmagun. The meltagun is better when it comes to causing instant death to T4 multiple wound creatures and is better than plasma at penetrating A14, but only when itís within 6Ē of the vehicle. Everything else in the game, the plasma is simply better at it, with more range and better synergy with other weapons. And overheating is less dangerous with 3+ saving power armor than it is often credited.

And this is why in competitive games, you find far more plasmaguns and lascannons than meltaguns and missile launchers. Itís literally raw advantage in all cases.

That said, I use plasma on Marines.
I use meltaguns on Storm Troopers.
And that's why.

Cheers!
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Old 23 Oct 2006, 01:53   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Plams or Melta - which do you use?

Ill take the plasma gun anyday, when are you ever going to find your infantry squads within 6" of his Land Raider? Mal was correct, is is over specialized.
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Old 23 Oct 2006, 15:56   #7 (permalink)
Shas'Vre
 
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Default Re: Plasma or Melta - which do you use?

I find it depends on the unit and thier role. While plasma guns would be preffered for units that tend to be static (thus the whole las/plas squad choice) those units that are meant to get uncomfortably close are better off carrying the melta. Basically I tend to have my bikers with meltas, my troops with plasma/melta mix (if I take 6 troops, 3 will be plasma 3 will be melta). That should give you a good balance and provide you with some tank popping ability in case your heavies aren't in a good firing position.
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Old 27 Oct 2006, 03:23   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Plasma or Melta - which do you use?

Melta has slightly better ap and strength. Plasma gets more shots either in the form of blast, or rapid fire. Plasma has longer range. Plasma can overheat. Melta is assault, letting you assault after you shoot. Both can be equipped on squads such as Raptors, Bikers, and tactical squads.

Melta are easier to avoid due to their short range. Espeically when going after vehicles (due to their greater manuverability), which are quicker then foot slogging units. It's easier to target units with Plasma, because they have a longer range.

Melta's are better for hunting heavy tanks, however. But Plasma are just as good against light vehicles as meltas are against light vehicles, because of their more shots, even if they have a little bit less strength. They could even be better, but I havne't crunched the numbers.

Against infantry, generally, I think plasma would work better, though. AP 2 for plasma is enough to ignore any armour save as is AP 1 with the melta weaponry. But, Plasma has more shots like Iv'e said many times before, so they win the bet against infantry. Of course, melta's slightly better strength will help it wound, but not by much. Strength 7 will be good enough against all infantry. Sure, the melta's strength with instant kill toughness 4 models and lower, but really, how many infantry, heavy armour or not, have multiple wounds? Not many, so it really doesn't make much of a difference. Against enemy HQ's, most will have invulnerable saves anyway. Again, making melta's less effective. Besides, what kind've opponent will let your melta gun get within range of their HQ, in line of sight, before they charge you or shoot you, and without any kind of body guard?

Overall, I'd say Melta's are best on fast squads like raptors or bikers, soley for tank hunting, or character hunting. Plasma's are better for most other things, including light vehicle destroying, light infantry, or heavy infantry hunting. Plasma's can also work effeciantly on tactical squads, rather then jsut faster moving units like meltas.

I'd say Plasma is better overall. Plus, I'll soon become a Dark Angel army after their new dex' comes out.

A quick summary:
-Plasma has the capability as killing enemy units at range moreso then meltas. At close range, Plasma can kill twice as many enemies.
-Tanks and enemy characters avoid melta
-Agaisnt high toughness enemies like a Wraithlord, a plasma will wound a Wraithlord more then a melta gun will. Plasma might only wound on 5+, but sense plasma has double the shots at the same range, 12 shots throughout 6 turns will score 2.66 wounds. A melta would get 6 shots, and 2 wounds.
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