Saturday, May 24, 2014

How Do D-Weapons Work in 7th Edition?

I eagerly purchased my 7th Edition rulebook from the local HobbyTown today. I've been scouring it all night and, overall, I'm rather happy with the rules. Although I still don't have enough experience to judge the Psychic Phase or the new powers, I've been happy with how many things have been simplified and/or clarified.

However, there may be some confusion with regards to how D-weapons work in this edition and what effect they have on vehicles and Super-heavies. I'm pretty sure I understand the rules, but I've seen so many assumptions and arguments about them (all of them interspersed with yet more tiresome complaints about GW) that I wanted to put my ideas out into the ether and see if others agree.

For starters, I believe that GW listened to gamers' complaints that 6th Edition D-weapons were too powerful and set out to create D-weapon rules that would be potent, but wouldn't necessarily relegate all non-Super-heavy models to players' shelves. I think they also intended to develop a table that would work for all vehicles and wouldn't need separate rules for standard vehicles and Super-heavies.

Standard Weapons and Vehicle Damage
Let's start with the rules for damaging vehicles on page 75 of the new rulebook. Under "Penetrating Hits" it says "If a penetrating hit was scored, the vehicle not only loses 1 Hull Point, but also suffers additional damage." The new Vehicle Damage table follows on page 76. It's the same as the one in 6th Edition except Crew Shaken now occurs on a 1 through 3 and Explodes! only occurs on a 7. For Super-heavy vehicles, page 94 says that Super-heavies don't suffer Crew Shaken results, Weapon Destroyed results, etc., but that "each time a Super-heavy vehicle suffers an Explodes! result on the Vehicle Damage table, instead of suffering the effects listed, it loses D3 additional Hull Points as well as the hull Point it loses for the penetrating hit."

So far, so good. Except for the slightly more forgiving Damage Table, standard weapons have the same rules as before. A penetrating shot against normal vehicles causes them to lose a single Hull Point and forces them to take their chances with the Vehicle Damage table. Super-heavies lose a single Hull Point and may lose an additional D3 Hull Points if an Explodes! result is rolled.

D-Weapons and Vehicle Damage
Under 6th Edition, D-weapons were insanely devastating. On a 1, any vehicle would suffer a penetrating hit. On a 2-5, Super-heavies lost D3+1 Hull Points while all other vehicles simply exploded. On a six, normal vehicles still exploded while Super-heavies lost D6+6 Hull Points. Fortunately, GW decided to tone it down in 7th.

The new rules actually give regular vehicles a chance at surviving a D-weapon blast, although there's still a good probability that they won't survive. The Destroyer Weapon Attack Table also omits any special exceptions or rules for Super-heavies; it works for any type of vehicle (or buildings, for that matter, which now have Hull Points).

As before, the rules state that if a target vehicle is hit by a D-weapon, you roll on the Destroyer Weapon Attack Table instead of rolling for penetration. The table on page 163 provides the following results:
1 - "Lucky Escape: The model is unharmed"
2-5 - "Solid Hit: The model suffers a penetrating hit that causes it to lose D3 Hull Points instead of 1." (Below it says that cover and invulnerable saves may be taken against a Solid Hit.)
6 - "Devastating Hit: The model suffers a penetrating hit that causes it to lose D6+6 Hull Points instead of 1. No saves of any kind are allowed against this hit."
In various places, I've seen people argue that a Solid Hit has no other result but to remove D3 Hull Points (and thus whine that melta-weapons are better than D-weapons). Others seem to think that the result is D3 Hull Points lost plus one for the penetrating hit. However, I think these ideas completely miss the mark.

Although their chainswords will do
less damage, Imperial Knights will
have a much higher survival rate
As is apparent from the table, a D-weapon is merely one that auto-penetrates on a 2+ and that has a modifier affecting how many Hull Points are immediately lost to such a hit. Nothing in the Destroyer Weapon table states that it negates or supersedes the effects of the normal Vehicle Damage Table (do we honestly believe that D-weapons can only take off Hull Points and have lost the ability to explode vehicles?). On the contrary, the table specifically says that on a 2-6, "The model suffers a penetrating hit"; the rules for a penetrating hit on page 75 state that a vehicle whose armor has been penetrated "suffers additional damage", which ranges from a Crew Shaken result to an Explodes! result. And it should be clear that the D3 Hull Points lost to a Solid Hit, or the D6+6 Hull Points lost to a Devastating Hit, aren't meant to be the sole consequence of a D-weapon attack, but instead represent a modification to the normal rule that a penetrating hit causes a model to lose only 1 Hull Point; e.g., "a penetrating hit that causes it to lose D3 Hull Points instead of 1" (emphasis mine).

Having determined from the Destroyer Weapon table exactly how many Hull Points have been lost from a penetrating hit caused by a D-weapon, we can resolve the target vehicle's fate by referring back to the penetrating hit rules found on page 75. These tell us the following: "After deducting any Hull Points, roll a D6 for each shot that penetrated the vehicle's armour and look up the result using the Vehicle Damage Table."

I think the confusion stems from the fact that the 6th Edition Destroyer Weapon Table entirely replaced the Vehicle Damage Table whenever a D-weapon was involved. It stated explicitly that on a 2-6, normal vehicles suffered an Explodes! result. The 7th Edition Destroyer Weapon Table provides no actual damage results, it merely tells us that a penetrating hit was made and how many hull points were initially removed when this happened. The fact that a penetrating hit occurred sends us back to the Vehicle Damage Table on page 76.

The Consequences of D-Weapon Hits
Most vehicles, whether standard or Super-heavy, are unlikely to survive a Devastating Hit, so let's focus on Solid Hits. At a minimum, a standard vehicle is going to lose a single hull point along with whatever damage is rolled on the Vehicle Damage Table. The Shadowsword's Volcano Cannon and the Imperial Knight's Reaper Chainsword are AP2 and will therefore get +1 on the Damage Table while the Stompa's Mega-choppa and the Lord of Skull's Great Cleaver of Khorne are AP1 and will get a +2 on the Damage Table.

In a worst case scenario, a standard vehicle will lose 3 Hull Points from the initial hit (which will immediately destroy anything except for models like Land Raiders) and then get an Explodes! result on the Damage Table. However, unlike D-weapon attacks under 6th Edition, there is still some chance that the vehicle might survive.

As for Super-heavies and D-weapons, the 7th Edition Destroyer Weapon table makes no distinction between what happens to a Super-heavy and what happens to a standard vehicle. Thus, a Super-heavy that takes a Solid Hit will also suffer an automatic penetrating hit, losing D3 Hull Points instead of just one. Like a standard vehicle, the Super-heavy will also have to roll on the Vehicle Damage Table. The biggest difference here is that only an Explodes! result can affect the Super-heavy, and then it won't necessarily be destroyed but will instead lose an additional D3 Hull Points.

In a best case scenario, a Super-heavy may only lose a single Hull Point to a Solid Hit, as opposed to at least two Hull Points under 6th (in the previous edition Super-heavies lost D3+1 Hull Points to a Solid Hit). At worst it may lose 6 Hull Points where it couldn't lose more than 4 under the previous edition.

Assuming my interpretation of the rules is correct, I think 7th Edition D-weapon are pretty fair. They're still the scariest things on the table, but at least non-Super-heavies have a fighting chance again.


  1. My problem with the D-weapon change is in regards to non-vehicle units. I don't like the fact that they no longer ignore all saves. The only thing that makes them different from high strength 'normal' weapons is the fact that it causes multiple wounds. Now, a unit of TH/SS Termies is going to easily survive D-weapon attacks. I liked it more when even those unkillable beasts were scared of my Knight or Shadowsword...
    Otherwise, I actually agree with your point above. If we are going to see more D-weapons brought into the game, this change was definitely for the better. I don't think that the weapon is totally neutered, just not nearly as scary to characters as they once were...

    1. I don't agree that D-weapons should always be able to deny invulnerable saves, although I do agree that denying them on a 6 seems pretty fair. Terminator armor, storm shields, Iron Halos, etc., are supposed to be exotic and nearly irreplaceable pieces of ancient technology. Fluffwise, their ability to at least partially withstand a blast from a Titan seems to fit in with their mystique.

      From a gaming standpoint, although Space Marines can field quite a few models with such saves, invulnerable saves seem to be rare in almost every other army (and are rarely as good as a TH/SS Terminator's 3++ save). Most models with an invulnerable save are already so expensive that it's nice that they now have some chance at survival.

      Where I agree with you completely is that it's absolutely ridiculous that D-weapons don't always have the Deny Cover special rule. Aegis Defence Lines must be built from some high quality stuff to actually protect soldiers behind it from a Volcano Cannon blast. And how is a small grove of trees or the remains of a burned out building going to protect you from a Turbolaser Destructor? Ranged D-weapons should blow most cover to kingdom come, leaving only shadows where the enemy used to be.

      It's even more ridiculous when you consider that the Guard's Deathstrike missile produces a S10, AP1, Apocalyptic Blast with Ignores Cover. Why the Deathstrike has a better AP value and blast radius than many Destroyer Weapons, while simultaneously denying cover, is a mystery to me.

  2. I think the *allows cover* is a compromise based on swarms of infantry.. for example I have 10k of infantry models.. but why would I even unbox them? if the table can physically hold them (doubtful) they are going to be everywhere.. simply putting a dinner plate on them and getting out a shovel seems rather pointless to me bringing them.. having said that GW *WANT* you to shoot D weapons at titans/ super heavies .. so I would argue that D3+1 was probably more fair, with a penetrating "explodes" causing D3+1 ontop of that.. then the normal infantry/monsters can have their cover save (not vehicles, they are too big to hide) to dis-incentivise shooting peons (after all and that cover save of *only ever* max 5+ is available unless it has a invuln at all then it's the invuln..

  3. Taking 11 wounds due to D6 +6 after a single hit from a D weapon on my warlord with no saves, even though I was in a building with less than 25% showing of canis to the knight was not fun, and felt uncompetative. I argued for some save of some kind, but nothing was allowed due to the roll of a 6 to hit. Seems odd a D weapon should do this. Has it been played correctly?

    1. While 7th Edition's D-weapons are toned down compared to 6th Edition's, a roll of a 6 is still outright murderous. No saves are allowed (invulnerable, armor, cover, etc.) and it takes D6+6 wounds or hull points. I wouldn't mind seeing that change slightly in 8th Edition.


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