The choice to self-destruct a heavy weapon

Written by Ron Saikowski, January 21, 2018

As the Marine player, it's a double edged sword. It's an option you want to have at your disposal and one you hope you'll never need at the very same time. The choice to self-destruct a heavy weapon is often an indicator that the Marines have come to a critical point in the mission with no other viable options remaining.

Desperate times call for desperate measures.

Bringing the option back
Through the editions, the option has existed in various forms. We've decided to make it a standard rule for our games across the board. Like I said, as the Marine player you want the ability to do it, but at the same time you hope you never have to.

I've used it in my games as the Marine player. I've deliberately sent a Heavy Weapon Marine to his death knowing it was the one thing that needed to be done to secure victory. It's hard for Genestealer player to beat a Marine with nothing to lose.

The way we see it, you have your standard Marine trained up to use Terminator armour. Then some of them stay in "school" a few weeks longer to learn how to use the really big, dangerous guns. The kind of weapons you need to be judicious with inside a derelict hulk because they're that powerful. These guys know their weapons down to the last nut and bolt. They know exactly what it takes to make them work... and exactly what it takes to break them.

For the purpose of this post we consider these to be heavy weapons: Heavy Flamer, Assault Cannon, Cyclone Missile Launcher and Plasma Cannon.

The one addition to this list is the Thunder Hammer. It has the ability to self-destruct even though it is not a heavy weapon. It follows all of the same rules as heavy weapons do though for consistency and simplicity.

How does self destruct work
Here we've opted to keep it simple and no matter what the weapon, the implementation of the effect is the same across the board. For a Marine to self-destruct his heavy weapon, he must have at least one round/burst/shot remaining. To self-destruct the weapon, it costs 1AP/CP. He cannot initiate the action if he is out of ammunition (the exception to that being the Thunder Hammer which ignores the ammunition requirement).

Self-destructing can be done during the Marines player's turn or the Genestealer's turn. In addition, a Marine may use the self-destruct option in close combat. If the Marine is assaulted in close combat, he may opt to self-destruct his heavy weapon INSTEAD of and BEFORE rolling to defend.

When opting to self-destruct in close combat, there will be no AP/CP cost to initiate the effect. The one restriction is that the Marine must have line of sight to his attacker in order to attempt this. If the Marine does not have line of sight to his attacker, he may not choose to self-destruct his weapon and must defend as normal.

What happens when the weapon is jammed and explodes?
A catastrophic explosion that rips through the immediate area obliterating everything that happens to be caught in its reach. It's simple... we center our blast template over the Marine. The effective range of the blast covers all of the adjacent squares surrounding the Marine who self-destructed.

The template is just there to help show which squares are affected. This is not an area effect that will impact a whole board section. It is not a persistent effect either. We use the same modified blast rules that we do when shooting. To read about the blast rules we use in our games, they can be found here.

The heavy weapon Marine is vaporized instantly. Everything caught in the blast is killed or destroyed on a D6 roll of 2+. Roll individually for each model caught in the blast. This means all Marines, Genestealers (to include the Broodlord), blips or doors (open and closed) caught in the blast suffer. Remember, this is the nuclear option... things are going to go away.

Then what happens?
Traditionally the Marine player pauses for a second to remember the sacrifice made by the heavy weapon Marine while the Genestealer player tries to wrap his head around what kind of crazy opponent would do such a thing. Once the smoke and shrapnel clear, hopefully the Marine's sacrifice has been enough to secure a victory.

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IMAGE: Both from GW (Top image colorized by me).
KEYWORDS: Space Hulk, heavy weapon, rules, blast weapon