A better blast weapon rule for Space Hulk

Written by Ron Saikowski, December 29th, 2017

Weapons with area effects in Space Hulk require an additional game mechanic to determine who gets hit by the blast and who does not. These weapons are beyond firing your basic Storm Bolter. With the potential to take down numerous targets with one shot, the affected area needs to be clearly defined.

To resolve this issue, GW decided that the whole board section would be affected by the "blast." It doesn't matter if it's a single square, a five square long corridor or an entire room. Big or little... it's the entire "board section" that's hit and everyone inside rolls for damage.

This "board section" method is good and bad.
On one hand this simplified approach makes it super simple to figure out the area affected by a blast weapon. On the other hand, it inadvertenty introduces the concept of individual board sections into the game as prominent landmarks that need constant attention.

I get it. It's a simple game and it's much easier to use a game mechanic like this for blast weapons than to introduce something complex and time consuming that doesn't fit in the overall feel of the game. I don't have a problem with that.

But is this the best way to represent areas affected by blast weapons?
I don't think so... but there's a balance to be found and that sometimes means sacrificing accuracy for speed and simplicity. Or does it?

I'll tell you that having to pay attention to individual board sections kills a huge part of my soul. As the Marine player I despise having to pay attention to those arbitrary board section breaks because it makes a difference how far my flamer has an impact. As the Genestealer player, I exploit this loophole to the absolute maximum.

As time went on, I decided I wanted some kind of game mechanic to more accurately represent the area affected by blast weapons (flamers, cyclone missile launchers, etc.)  that did not use individual board sections as the guide. And it had to remain simple... preferably using some existing game mechanic if possible.

Blast template vs board section
My friend patiently tolerated my constant experimentation for weeks as I went through failed attempt after failed attempt. Some far too overpowered, some woefully inadequate. Constantly playtesting new solutions. In the end, it was a complete overhaul of how blast weapons affect areas of the board.

They no longer affect board sections... instead, a small blast template (like the one we all know from the old days playing 40k) is centered on the target model or target square. The same LOS and range rules apply. Those were not changed. Only the area of effect is altered.

By using a small blast marker, the concept of board sections is removed entirely. You no longer get lucky sometimes and get a whole hallway while suffering other times and getting only one square simply because of an arbitrary break between board sections. Gone is the ability for the Genestealer player to use those imaginary boundaries to hide behind and stay out of danger. Gone is the need for the Marine player to constant monitor those imaginary boundaries.

An additional firing mode, "Point Blank"
In addition to changing the area of effect, my friend and I added the ability for a flamer to fire at "point blank." This allows the Marine to fire the weapon even if a Genestelaer is standing in the square directly in front of him without getting blasted himself.

A tactic sometimes seen was a Genestealer rushing right up to the Marine with the heavy flamer knowing the Marine could not fire the weapon without injuring himself in the process... that or he had to back up one square. Not always possible in the crowded confines of a Space Hulk. Now if you run up to the muzzle of a heavy flamer as the Genestealer player, you're going to find yourself in a real bad spot.

So how does all this work in the game then?
Something like this works best with a diagram. Trying to explain this with text alone is not ideal. I've created a PDF that describes the firing modes for a Heavy Flamer (and all other blast weapons as well!) that you can download for free and use in your games.

Here's a single page of flamer templates you can download and use as well. There are 6 per page so print it out twice and you'll have plenty for your games!

The templates are actual size so it shouldn't need any scaling up or down if printed on standard 8.5" x 11" paper. You still may need to adjust the images slightly depending on your printer though so some experimentation may be needed.

Once you have the templates printed, cut them out and glue them to a suitable thickness cardstock and them trim off the excess. You now have all the flamer templates you need for your games.

In addition, you can take a look at the modifications made to targeting in this post here.
Basically, nobody is safe anymore. Anyone finding themselves in front of a heavy flamer or any blast weapon for that matter when it fires is in big trouble!

If you make no other changes to your games of Space Hulk, you need to make this change. It will make your games so much better when it comes to firing and resolving blast weapons!

You can see all of my Space Hulk related posts here.
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IMAGE: Illustration by Corbella.
KEYWORDS: Space Hulk, heavy flamer, Terminator, rules, blast weapon