Monday, June 8, 2009

Power weapons Vs Power Fists... Which should you choose?

This week we are going to discuss whether it is better to take power weapons or power fists.
Is it better to strike at your normal initiative with normal strength or to strike at initiative 1 and get double your strength?

First off lets look at some of the numbers. I will use normal marines for both the attacker and defender just to keep it simple. With both weapons you have WS 4, which means that the majority of the time you will be hitting on 4's. This means that you have a 50% chance to hit on each dice roll. Rolling to wound is where the weapons differ. With the power weapon you have a 42.19% chance of causing 1 wound, a 14.06% chance of causing 2 wounds, and because you get the extra attack for the bolt pistol you have a 1.56% chance of causing 3 wounds. For the power fist you have a 48.61% chance of doing 1 wound, 17.36% chance for 2 wounds, and unless you have 2 power fists you cannot get a 3rd attack for an extra close combat weapon. Each weapon ignores armor saves, so this means that on average with the power weapon you will be causing .75 wound per round of combat and with the power fist you will be causing an average of .83 wounds!

While there is a numerical difference in the amount of wounds caused, the two weapons are so close that I feel it comes down to a situational difference in which weapon you choose. Either weapon should perform well against troops, but I think there is a slight advantage of striking at your normal initiative. The power fist is slightly more versatile due to the higher strength, which means that if you need to assault a standard vehicle or are in close combat with a high toughness model, you have a better chance to penetrate the rear armor or cause a wound.

In closing, I think the choice comes down to the way you are going to use the unit and what you are able to allot for in points. I feel that upgrading from a power weapon to a power fist is a great value for just a few more points!


Karrik said...

Possibly the most useful abilities that the powerfist gives you - although they are all situational - are:
1. Instant killing T4. Space Marine Commanders and Ork Nobz drop faster!
2. Fighting Walkers with AV>10. You can only use those Krak grenades if you have a power weapon - but a power fist will mess them up.
3. Fighting very high toughness - Wraithlords just can't be hurt by conventional Marines without a Strength boost.

Anonymous said...

powerfist get a bigger boost from charging.

Bill.IVC said...

I would agree with Karrik. I realize that there are times when you want the power weapon so you can use your initiative, however, I think if a squad is sitting out there without a power fist, they are too vulnerable to being caught in a situation in which they have no hope of surviving or even troubling that creature or walker that is tying them up. Now, if you add melta bombs o a squad, you stand a better chance of dealing with the walkers, but that power fist allows you multiple attacks to destroy the walkers and still helps against those high toughness creatures. Personally, unless I am going to be able to support a squad with a monstrous creature or walker of my own, I won't field one without a power fist (this changes with my guard though, strength 6 is nearly as useless as a power sword for them, and I rarely field either with my guard).

I think all in all, if you have str 4 throw in a power fist. This will give you that wound easier and protect the squad from being sitting ducks against tough opponents. If you have the option of having more than one power weapon in a squad, then I would say take only one power fist and the others power weapons. More than one power fist in a squad, is a bit overkill (one reason I love the Chaos Termies, they come with power weapons and have to add power fists, I only out one in a squad). If, on the other hand, you have lower than str 4, I would question the use of either. Perhaps with high WS Eldar or something like that, a str 3 with a power weapon may be worth it, but in other situations, I think you are waisting points for a unit that should never see Close combat.

Tyler said...

I just don't see why you would take either on the unit you are describing... Chaos marines, maybe, because they have no way to get out of combat other than to kill their opponent, or die, they also tend to have at least be decent in combat (they have bp/cs). Tactical marines on the other hand are shooty- period. If you take tactical marines, you are taking a shooty unit, and putting 25/15 point upgrade on your sergeant isn't going to change that. Unless you're going against guard or tau, you're going to lose combat, use combat tactics to autofail, then use ATSKNF to autorally the next turn and shoot again. Please do not even consider powerweapons or powerfists on tactical marines- ever.

JTaylor said...


In competitive play the idea is to make each unit so that they can fill more than one role. What are you going to do when your "shooty" unit of marines ends up needing to take out a vehicle or something with a high toughness value? Nothing, unless for a mere 25 points you make them versatile and give the Sgt a power fist.

I have played plenty of games where tactical marines have held their own against units that should have rolled them no problem. You can NEVER discredit a 3+ armor save, unless you are taking power weapon wounds.

The down side to using Combat Tactics to rely on getting away is that you aren't always going to get away, which you should already know. If you do manage to get away and make a 'Fall Back' move and your opponent decides to consolidate towards you, now you have just given them the chance to walk your marines right off the table!

Before you try to make such bold statements please read and re-read both your marine codex and the Basic rules. A very basic understanding of the game will show you just how wrong you are..

HOTpanda said...

From a Chaos Space Marine persepective and that of a Nurgle follower I have to say that the POWER FIST wins hands down. The reason for this is that my Nurgle Daemon Princes loath the sight of one cause not only do they ingore their armour save but they can wound with out breaking a sweat. A power weapon though they laugh at due to the fact that they power weapon needs 6's to wound.

There sher versatility that it offers in terms of being able to combat infantry, walkers, vehicles and Monstrous creatures is will worth the points.

Great topic and nice evaluation.

JTaylor said...

I completely agree Hotpanda, being able to be versatile is an absolute must if you want to win. While power weapons are nice for troop killing, the versatility just isn't there.

Thanks for checking out the blog and sounding off with your opinion ;)