Sunday, 2 September 2012

The humble Chainsword.

The humble Chainsword. This, ladies and gentleman is the preserve of those of the 41st Millennium, and for that matter, at least the preceeding ten thousand years, that have progressed within the Imperium at least to being a Sergeant.

It is a weapon, that the Black Library would have you believe is favoured by Captains over Power Swords and Power Axes, and yet in game terms it has the same killing power as a bit of snapped twig.

Almost all Imperial kits come with at least one Chainsword, it is a free weapon for most squad leaders and yet how many people take them? I can't think of the last time I even considered not trying to find points to upgrade a Tactical or Assault squad Sergeant to a better option. I think that the only Sergeant that I don't upgrade is my Devastator Sergeant, and by the same token my Retributor Sister Superior.

Sadly, for some reason Games Workshop has not given this weapon any form of boost. And yet, make the handle a bit longer and you increase the strength by 2, if you then increase the size of the blade you double the strength and somehow manage to cut through a Tank which is the same if you strap a small Chainsword to a giant fist and run an electrical current through it.

Why then is the Chainsword so poor? And why am I asking this in the first place?

I shall explain:

Aren't these nice models? The sculptor has taken a lot of care to ensure that these are strong, dynamic miniatures befitting of being Sergeants, and yet, as soon as I possibly can, I already intend to swap those Chainswords out which is a real shame.

Now, if they had perhaps even the tiniest chance of being good, then I would consider keeping them. Perhaps a rule such as this:

Biting point - Any to hit rolls of 6 have potentially found a weak point in the armour or hull of the model they are attacking. Roll any 6s separately as any further 6s result in the attack gaining the Rending special rule.

Now to me, that's still a long shot, but at least gives a bit of hope and a reason to use the weapon except where there is no choice to upgrade.

I'd appreciate your thoughts on this.


  1. I have to agree, I was very shocked when I saw that it had no change in the new edition rules.
    Especially when all older marine codexs pay 100points for the cheaper HQ (sept wolves with 70/75) and it comes with that, but then new dex's (GK) come with force or power weapons.

    It definitely needed something, and it needs to be more than say AP4 or 5. It needs a rule for it. Perhaps similar to what you are suggesting, or personal an idea I came up with was this.

    Special Rule: Shredding. Any roles of a 6 to hit against models with a toughness value roll to wound separately. They always wound on a 3+ and if a 6 is rolled they gain the rending special rule.

    Against vehicles any rolls of a 6 to hit roll D6+D3 for armour penetration.

    Still not over powered IMO but makes them have a chance to actually be useful. For example a S3 Imperial Guard Sergeant who is brave(or stupid) enough to charge a tank can carve into the back armour, representing hitting a weak spot on the vehicle.

  2. Not really a 40k player anymore but I must agree.

    I know when none-gamers see models with chain swords they are like "wooooahh! this guy has a chainsaw! awesome!" - unfortunately it turns out they may as well be weilding a large branch or walking stick.

  3. I think its actually a 50/50 fault of GW and the player who upgrades.

    In every codex released since I started playing the power sword/ axe upgrade is roughly a 10 or 15 pointer. As the size of the games have slowly increased, points wise it makes it a lot easier to find space so all your squads characters ie Sgts can carry them.
    GW's fault in this is that they havn't really enforced the fluff of the 40K universe. In all the SM books that I have read Power weapons are rare, very rare. Only the Force/ Battle leaders have access to them, for proving themselves in the crucible of battle (Captains and such like) If there was a limit on the amount of upgrades (from chainswords to power weapon) then I think most players would keep (forced to keep) the humble chainsword.

    The players fault is upgrading the chainsword to power weapon so each and every squad is full of them. The reason they do this is so when their squads hit the enemy they kill as many as possible because they want to win, win the combat, win the game.
    If you take two forces both identical, except one is armed with power weapons the other chainswords then I would prob bet on the one armed with power weapons to win (especially in assault) because your more likely to cause wounds that cannot be saved.
    Both of the above rules sound good and it actually gives the humble chainsword a chance to cause damage against power armour which of course is the most popular army we are seeing at the moment and have for along time (Thanks GW).
    Now if each army had a limit of 2 power weapons and one powerfist and the rest had to be issued with the chainsword then I think we would start seeing better C.C fights in our battles with the outcome unknown to the players (only the Dice Gods would truly know).
    Wouldn't that make a better fight? The fact the each army is limited to a certain amount of power weapons fits into the fluff better imo.
    Just my two cents added to the above.

  4. I think the imbalance is entirely due to faction popularity. The chainsword would stand as a great economic option if all factions were roughly as popular. However around half of the armies a player is likely to face in any event will be marines of some kind, which means you have to plan to fight marines above all others; in turn making the power weapon a necessary investment.

    Personally my approach is to be more flexible with the wysiwyg attitude, though this is messy if you are doing it with several models in the same army. I do this with my Raven Guard captain, who for rules would be stupid to take without a power weapon; but for fluff I like the idea he is so cunning or skillful that he can wield a chainsword to the same event as a power sword.

    Its one solution, but if you want different mixtures of weapons it could become rather messy for your opponent; so its definitely one to keep simple.