More penetration: Ass versus Las

This weeks sandwich request comes from the inimitable Paul ‘Mandragoran’ Quigley (just back from Switzerland as part of the Irish team in the 40k world championships!). We’re taking another look at penetration today, this time factoring in the impact of rending. A useful reference point would be here where I’ve covered the efficacy of a variety of anti tank weapons, but the material in this post does stand on its own too. Right, question time:

A Black Legion tank commander is navigating his Land Raider through enemy territory. He’s caught in crossfire between two Razorbacks, one left, and one right. Both are at the limit of their weapon range, so the commander decides to rush towards one so that he can’t be hit by both. Should he drive toward the Assault Cannon armed Razorback, or the Lascannon armed Razorback?

So, rending against vehicles. You get your usual 1d6 plus weapon strength roll, with the added twist that if you get a 6 on the roll, then you get to roll a d3 and add it to your result. This means that an assault cannon at Str 6 could get a 15 and penetrate a Land Raider (Str6+roll a 6 on d6+ roll a 3 on d3 =15). The question is, can it do a better job than a Lascannon (which is a plain Str 9 + 1d6 with no rending)?

It’s a little tricky to do a straight like-for-like comparison here as a key feature of the assault cannon is that it gets four shots, whereas the Lascannon only gets one. So here’s my starting point. I’m assuming that there are no misses, and for the Lascannon I’m looking at the odds of a penetrating hit, and for the assault cannon I’m looking at the odds of at least one penetrating hit. Some of you may object to that approach, but bear with me for now.

(Just to note: the gap in the line isn’t a mistake, it’s simply that you can’t get a 12 on the assault cannon as rolling the 6 gets you an extra d3 making you jump from 11 to 13+).

So what have we got: one hit with a lascannon has a (just under) 17% chance of getting a pen on AV14, but 4 hits from an assault cannon gets you (just over) 17% chance of getting one or more penetrating hits on AV14. Okay the odds are only a tiny bit higher but you can get from one to four pens so the net effect can be a lot stronger. So the word on the street is correct, assault cannons are straight up better than lascannons at penetrating AV14?

Well, not so fast.

Let’s go back to those assumptions from earlier. None of the shots miss. “So what?” you say, “the assumption was the same for both!“. Actually it’s different. The odds of getting all hits on a one shot weapon are better than the odds of getting all hits on a four shot weapon (assuming equal BS). The analysis above assumes that the Razorbacks never miss, so the more unreliable the firer, the less accurate that graph becomes.

To illustrate the point I’ve run the same analysis showing the results for 4, 3, 2 and 1 hits on the assault cannon versus the lascannon.

The comparison is no longer quite so clear cut. We need to account for the end to end process from hitting through to penetrating. So lets’ do that. Lets assume BS4 for the assault cannon and the lascannon.

For the assault cannon we need:

  • 3+ to hit
  • 6+ to rend
  • 5+ to penetrate

This gives us a 4% probability of success. But we get 4 shots, if you’re thinking that 4 shots at 4% gets you a 16% probability of success then you probably need to read my blog more often; if you’re thinking the answer is 14% then you probably don’t need me at all. (Success here means one or more penetrate results)

For the Lascannon we need:

  • 3+ to hit
  • 6+ to penetrate

This gives us an 11% probability of success, and since we only get one shot, that’s the total odds.

So what’s the final verdict? The analysis clearly shows that neither the assault cannn or lascannon are particularly good at killing Land Raiders, but if they both have the same BS, the assault cannon is definitively better. It is worth noting that the lascannon can sneak ahead if fired by a superior marksman, so a BS5 lascannon is equal to a BS4 assault cannon, and a twin linked BS4 lascannon is better than a BS4 assault cannon (vs AV14).

I say final verdict, but there’s still a little more gas in the tank. I’ve plotted a couple of different weapons so you can check out the relative merits of weapons that I haven’t covered previously. Note that I’ve not done the full end to end calculation here, I’ve simply assumed all shots hit for this chart.

One final weirdness I wasn’t quite expecting, against the humble rhino (AV11) the lascannon is more reliable. It’s basically an artifact of the rend: if you get a 6 then your result ‘jumps up’ out of line with the non rending results. So while we initially were concerned only with AV14, we can in fact make a more general statement: AV12 and above, assault cannon more lethal, AV11 and below Lascannon more deadly!

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Tournament 40k player seeks strategy brainwave to take home the trophy View all posts by WarHamSandwich

5 responses to “More penetration: Ass versus Las

  • Newbreed

    Your anti-xenoc flag flies high. Where are the Tyranid rupture cannons? S10.

    • WarHamSandwich

      Harsh words! S10 penetration was covered as part of the final section of this post. I’m assuming it’s just a straight S10 with no other effects? (do note that rending on S10 would have no practical effect on penetration since getting the 6 to rend means you’ve already penetrated the highest armour in the game)

  • Thomas Longwell

    I ran some similar numbers on DakkaDakka a while back.

    http://www.dakkadakka.com/dakkaforum/posts/list/355350.page#2598068

    I like your graphs, but what I think is missing is that you only look at the probability of doing something, while there are multiples ways to look at the problem.

    This sort of comparison is totally cool when comparing one shot weapons, but the possibility of overkill complicates things when comparing Assault Cannons to other stuff.

    The short version of what I think you miss is that a Twin-Linked Assault Cannon is better at doing something to every AV except 12 than a Twin-Linked Lascannon, and is better at destroying everything except AV11, in which case the difference is pretty minor.

    I compared TL’ed versions because I was interested in which Razorback variant is best. The short version there is that TL-LC is the worst, and Las/Plas the best unless you face a lot of AV13-14. A Las/Plas Razorback that can fire both guns is significantly better than a TL-AC version at both 12″ and 24″.

    • WarHamSandwich

      Interesting comment! I think the analysis does fall short of the complete picture (i.e. end to end odds of a damage result) and that’s something I’m hoping to write a set of articles on in the near future. You can get a glimpse of what I’m aiming for in the Vindicare article where I examine the odds of destroying a Land Raider.

      • Thomas Longwell

        That’s a good idea. I liked the Vindicare piece, especially how you calculated the value of a Turbo-Penetrator shot in terms of Lascannon shots.

        I think my results show that doing the math is really worth it in some cases. For example, I never would have guessed that an Assault Cannon would be so much worse than Las/Plas within 12″ against AV11, but not that much worse than Las/Plas against AV10.

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