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"Pink isn't a color. It's a lifestyle." - Chumbalaya
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"I buy models with my excess money" - Valkyrie whilst a waitress leans over him

Sunday, September 5, 2010


Also known as 'the powerfist.'

A strength 8 beast, ignoring armor saves, but also striking last. Big drawback, for a big bonus? Stop. Stop, right there. You have been deceived. The powerfist is not a weapon in the way a boltpistol is. It's a weapon in the way a nuke is.

The mere presence of the powerfist makes characters, expensive armor, and wounded monsters avoid the unit - thus, it's insurance. Like real insurance, it's sometimes good, and sometimes not so good. It's costly, and may not pay off in the long- or short-term. It might even turn out to be a complete waste, or an outright scam.

Insurance is a binary choice. If 'yes' you have a more expensive unit that the majority of all expensive, important models will avoid. If 'no,' wounded monsters and characters won't hesitate to charge your unit.

Is it always worth it? No. Is it always worth skimping on it, for an extra guy and a meltagun somewhere? No.

You want some insurance - typically in units that you're gonna feed into the grinder, or that otherwise will operate very close to the enemy; command squads, sternguard squads, the occasional tactical squad, assault marines, some bike squads. Roughly two for every 1000 points in your army. More than that? Probably not.

In the hands of a captain or a master, the powerfist is insurance as well as a weapon. He hits most things on 3's, outright kills most mansized things, and tanks return damage with his iron halo. Your sergeants aren't so lucky. Even with a powerfist, they're still not likely to kill much. However, your opponent isn't directly aware of this, thinking only about the powerfist and its perceived threat to big, important, and expensive models.

It's the fear you're taking advantage of. That's what makes powerfists worth it, despite the constant nerfs they recieve. True, a powerfist wound will destroy multi-wound models with toughness 4 or less, but considering the sergeant gets two attacks, has to wound, and the target more often than not gets an invulnerable save, the real chance of this happening is low.

Despite this, 'vulnerable' characters and big nasties will consciously avoid the unit and its powerfist aura, which is very, very good for you. Means you get more time to close in on the opponent, and have to spend fewer turns stuck in combat. Marines like to shoot, so anything that makes it so you can shoot more is a valuable tool, and should be considered.

Powerfist auras provide you limited control of the opponent's movement phase, as well. If it's obvious that a powerfist is hiding in a squad, or you've got two squads with fists close to each other, he's not as likely to put characters opposite, and will instead place them elsewhere. Use this.

Other than all that, there's not much else to say. Better desperation anti-tank, but still nowhere near a sure thing. 2 attacks at strength 8 isn't that much better at swaying combat than 3 at strength 4, and since you don't want to be stuck in in the first place, it's not something you should think of including 'just in case there's assaulting.' Jumper assault marines and characters can use 'fists offensively, but those are about it.

Insurance - nothing more, nothing less.

Following the truth of the powerfist, a new view on the marine army - one you're not likely to have had presented to you before.

17 pinkments:

Chumbalaya said...

Powerfists are exceedingly overrated on units like Tactical Squads. 2 S8 attacks isn't going to stop you getting your face smashed in.

GMort. said...

Powerfist Marine vs. T4 Marine Character with 4+ Inv. save.

2 attacks, 1 Hit, 0.833 chance to wound, 0.417 chance to kill after Inv. saves.

A 42% chance of killing a 150+ point character with a 48 point Power Fist Sergeant isn't bad odds at all imo.

VT2 said...

What does the mathhammer have to do with anything?

Sage said...

He's agreeing with you, VT. He's trying to say that it can allow you to kill of some really powerful opponents (although such a choice is pretty rare, usually reserved for 1-2 units in your army at most).

Kirby said...

Is it generally worth 25 points on Tac squads though? No. Tac squads aren't great in combat and PFists don't change this. It's important to pointout that PFists in Tacs are not an offensive tool. I'd never recommend them on Tacs because of this but in units like ASM, go for it.

Marshal Wilhelm said...

My poor Crusaders [under equipped as 4th ed TROOPS are] need the PF as back up to the Mg.

I mathhammered the Power sword to be similar to the Power fist in killing MEq, and striking at i1 is definitely frustrating, but as VT2 says, it is insurance.

If I don't pop that vehicle [and so miss out on assault the passengers] then I might as well have 2 more attempts at doing something to it [plus assaulting the transport gets me closer to where I want to be]
2 s8 attacks against [usually av10] is not bad.

If I do get assaulted by Killa Kanz, or some walker, I'd still like to have a slim chance than no chance at all. Crusaders are fearless [daft?] so I can't UM and run away.

Nobz, Suits and other t4 multi wounders offer nice targets for s8 attacks too.
This also includes t3 ICs, as I can target them in close combat. Nice way to demoralise the other player and get extra points on your Combat Res score.

AbusePuppy said...

Power Fists are excellent in "combat" units- ASM, VV, etc, where you know you're going to be assaulting people. They give you a guaranteed wound and they protect you, to a degree, against MCs, Dreads, etc.

They are bad in Tactical squads, Devastators, etc, as "insurance" (i.e. the way they seem to be presented here.) Yes, you will _sometimes_ get to use them, but mostly they will be an expensive upgrade that doesn't really change the outcome of the fight. Rather than spending 75-150pts throughout my army on PFs, I'll instead get to run another unit of Sternguard, or Speeders, or a Predator, or whatever.

Dang it, I need to write a post on incremental points costs. :|

Da Warboss said...

Power Fist equivilants are a must for some armies, like orks. Without a Powerklaw, you're not going to do much when you charge a plague marine squad when you need 6's to even wound in later rounds. Dreads are common enough on the battlefield that tac squads often get assaulted. Relying on Krak grenades is less that realistic...

Saab(Greg) said...

I used to run PFists until I got fed up with not being able to use combat tactics to run away from fights I can't win. We really don't want Tac squads in CC. If they are, then we made a mistake or we're desperate.

Wallshammer said...

People are outright insane not to use powerfists in every squad they can. They'll charge your normal tactical squad with a power weapon. They'll think twice before doing it when there's a powerfist there.

Love the article. Great stuff and I am VERY glad you're bringing a shine back on marines. They're the backbone AND measuring stick of the game if you ask me.

Wallshammer said...

Let me repost... IN EVERY SQUAD THAT SHOULD HAVE THEM, not can.

VT2 said...

But if you take powerfist everywhere, your army shrinks as a whole.

I took some random list from wawrseer, and counted out all the powerfists and power weapons.
2k points became 1780.

If they charge with a power weapon, your tacticals still will lose.
If there happens to be a fist in the squad, they WILL think things through, and probably go for rapid fire instead.

Chaplains don't make bad combat units good, and fists don't make shooty infantry into combat units.

Dreads are NEVER, EVER dealt with in combat! You shoot them wit meltaguns.

Just take a few.
One in a sternguard squad, one in the assault squad guarding your librarian, one on a plasma back sergeant, and call it a day.

Lord Zorgatron said...

The key word here is 'insurance'. Power Fists are not vital to the strategy, they don not actively do anything and using any more than 1/20 of your total points cost is inefficient. It's just a hazard, a simple deterrent to enemy assault units. Odds are, the enemy will charge anyway if his unit is built for it - the powerfist is there to make the situation less painful where it does. I'm not a fan, but I can see their merits on fast and/or in-your-face units.

Kris said...

Powerfists are more useful in Marine armies without Combat Tactics - like if you have Shrike, Vulcan, or Lysander in the list. The tac squads there can't run away, so powerfists as "insurance" makes more sense.

VT2 said...

Marine armies that trade combat tactics for stubborn aren't truly good or useful, but more of a gimmick.
I'm gonna get back to that later down the line, I'm sure, but as a rule of a thumb, taking mister Kantor or Lysander makes your army worse - not better.

'Superfriends' (both in the saem army) is a functional gimmick, but you need to play 2.5k or more to afford all the toys and units necessary.

Raptor1313 said...

As with insurance, it depends on the enemy.

The key words are 'that go into the grinder.'

ANY close-combat squad SHOULD pack one or more just because there's the chance you'll hit multi-wound T4 guys, higher-toughness targets, or vehicles. Without one, something like a Dreadnought just looks contemplative as it crushes your expensive guys that wish their shiny lightning claws could do more than scratch paint.

Your tac squads, though? Even if all I've got nearby is a squad of 'nid warriors, I'll happily go into your squad and maim most of it in exchange for a warrior or two, unless I'm under-strength.

I'd never discount the powerfist out of hand, but I'd look to fill more directly useful capabilities before I give my Tactical Sarge a big fist.

king cronan said...

Im new to this site so its my 1st time reading this article and i dont know if people will read this but ill do it anyways! :)

I used to not run power fists in Tac squads for all the reasons people mentioned, mainly that tac squads should not be in close combat and points better spent elsewhere. But every time i jumped out of a rhino to rapid fire something my squads would end up getting assaulted the next turn. I could combat tactics my way out but that hardly works because my opponents are smart and always try and stay within 6" of the unit, or I'm using Vulkan. So I'm usually stuck in combat.

So i started putting P. Fists in my squads because the internet was doing it and i thought i would try it out. It helped immensely! The power fist always gives me a fighting chance with whatever big thing I'm fighting that i would normally not have a chance at killing. Or it is almost guarantee a kill in combat, helping w/ combat resolution. (every bit helps with tac squads in close combat) The problem is that only one tac squad usually really needs the P. fist but i never know what squad that is going to be, so they all have them. Not the best use of points, i know, and i would rather buy a land speeder or attack bike with those points but, at least in my experience, they have been worth it.

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