They both can melt your face and they both have a high strength, but one is the darling of 5th edition.  Now time to turn back the clock because plasma is back and here are the reasons why…

How could a case be made for plasma guns? There are many things going against them when compared to meltaguns. Meltaguns have better strength, better armor piercing, no gets-hot, assault in the turn you fire, and cheaper. So how can a Plasma Gun possibly compare to such a weapon? By running a simple test Lootas test, that annoying Ork squad that kills a transport or unit per turn. Ever since they appeared in the Ork codex people went running for the hills. What do they have to do with plasma guns, it is simple. Plasma Guns if used like a Lootas can accomplish more than a meltagun.

Why does time after time the Lootas’s Deffgun perform better then Melta? It is because of two important principles: larger threat range and mass of fire. Which is always a problem with current melta spam strategy based on, you must destroy vehicles to achieve victory,  isn’t the more logical choice Plasma guns? You get double the shots at 12″ range and in the hands of relentless units you get to shoot at 24″ range. You also perform better against larger units where meltaguns lose their effectiveness. Not to mention Monsterous Creatures plasma does wonders against. Much of the love for Meltaguns is an illusion because the true power of melta comes in the form of multi-meltas. It is the power of units like attack bikes, speeders, and dreds that in the minds of many see melta as some diamond encrusted grill, full of bling. The very reason why multi-meltas in the examples above are so potent is because the greater range threat they provide, just like Plasma Guns.

What about meltagun ability to eliminate Armor Value 13 or 14 with AP1 as your new god? The love for mech comes not from Pred and Land Raider spam, it comes from transport spam which has an average AV of 11. Also, what of the contents of transports; if my job was simply to destroy a transport, then get assaulted, meltaguns can be a tactical waste. It is only the Land Raider that poses any tactical threat because of its AV 14 on all sides, which comes to another point, do not go all hog wild loading up on plasma guns like Ecstasy is to a candy raver, it will be your folly. Meltaguns and Plasma guns like anything in 40k is better in moderation. Meltaguns have their place, they are one of the best heavy tank killers in the game. What Plasma guns supply are more flexibility, this is especially true for units that can only get two special weapons. Why take the risk of missing with two shots when you can get four shots at the same range.

The next time when you build a list, break out those old plasma models and see what happens you might be surprised.

Questions for comment:

  1. How do you feel with people going overboard with meltagun spam?
  2. How effective has either Melta or Plasma been for you?
  3. What points would you make in the defense of either Melta or Plasma?