This week’s Hammer of Math looks at the efficacy of the new volkite weapons in Adeptus Titanicus.
In the Warhammer 40,000 universe, volkite weapons are heat rays capable of deflagrating the enemy and piercing even the thickest of armor. While extraordinarily rare in the 41st millennium, during the Horus Heresy they were common enough that even human foot troopers would occasionally carry one. Titans wielded the epitome of this technology in the form of volkite eradicators and the even more imposing volkite destructor. With the release of these weapons from Forgeworld we have an opportunity to take a comprehensive look and see how they stack up. Vokite weapons come in two varieties; the 20 point S5 volkite eradicator which can fit on a Warhound arm or Reaver carapace, and the 40 point S6 volkite destructor which can only fit on the arm of a Warlord. Both the eradicator and destructor fire 3 shots and have the Voidbreaker (2) ability, which forces the target to make two extra void shield saves so long as a single shot hits.
The volkite destructor also has the Beam (1) and Draining traits, meaning that if you position your model correctly and push the reactor you can simply skip rolling to hit and guarantee three shots will hit the target (even if you make a called shot). By itself S6 isn’t particularly terrifying, but this can be offset by applying bonuses such as Scorched Earth from the Extergimus maniple or applying a Coordinated Strike from a Squadron such as with Legio Venator or Vulcanum. Particularly enthusiastic and/or insane players could consider applying Experimental Weapons (2) in the hopes that the volkite destructor is selected for the +2 bonus and then follow up with Overcharged Cannon (2) to add an additional +2. Given that using the beam ability means that the player doesn’t make a hit roll the risk of overheating is eliminated, but whether or not it’s worth putting all of your Stratagem points on a gimmick is up to you. If you’re lucky you could combine everything for three guaranteed S13 hits at the cost of 2 reactor pushes.
We covered the math behind breaking void shields previously and while the Warlord carapace options remain the undisputed champion there are a few arm-based weapons which are worth looking at. The chart below shows the output potential for the volkite weapons under a few options (including using the beam mode as well as the Cursed Earth Stratagem) and compares them to a selection of alternative choices which a player may wish to use. From a shield stripping perspective the unmodified volkite weapons are reasonably good, averaging between an carapace apocalypse missile launcher and a gatling blaster depending on the target value on the hit roll. Where things fall short is against the direct competition of vulcan mega-bolter. The mega-bolter has the same range, no hit penalties, and averages more stripped shields even though it’s half the cost in points thanks to the Rapid trait. It’s difficult to see a situation where the volkite eradicator is anything but a hindrance; it really needed to have the Beam trait to be viable. The volkite destructor shows some potential. In its unmodified format it averages 1.3 failed 3+ saves, which is equivalent to the macro-gatling blaster (albeit at 10 points more). Push the reactor to guarantee 3 hits and it now performs better than a vulcan mega-bolter but remains inferior to the output of the carapace weapon options. The range of the volkite destructor is identical to the macro-gatling blaster as well, making it a good baseline.
Given that the volkite weapons are good at taking down shields, but not necessarily the best, one would hope that their ability to penetrate armour would help balance things. Unfortunately that’s simply not the case; it’s a S5 or S6 weapon that only gets 3 shots in a game where AV10 is the weakest value and facing a Warlord is going to require breaking AV12. The volkite eradicator is particularly egregious; it’s simply a 3 shot S5 weapon with no benefit whatsoever once you get past shields. Seriously it averages as many hits against AV10 as a vulcan mega-bolter. The volkite destructor isn’t much better, requiring the Titan to push the reactor in order to activate the Beam trait and possibly achieve some benefit. If you do manage to achieve the wombo-combo of a super-maximal volkite destructor under Extergimus and a squadron bonus then obviously it will do well… but so would nearly anything else. A more realistic approach of a Vulcanom/Venator squadron in an Extergimus setting does produce some interesting results, as the +2 bonus from Scorched Earth only requires 1 heat to activate and getting it to S9 does pose a threat to a variety of targets.
I’ll be blunt. The volkite eradicator is absolute garbage. The Voidbreaker (2) ability isn’t worth the extra 10 points given that the weapon is no better against armour than the vulcan mega-bolter, the range penalty is terrible, and it inexplicably lacks a Beam trait even though volkite weapons are supposed to be heat rays. Outside of it looking cool there’s no reason to take it, especially since both the Reaver and the Warhound can slot a vulcan mega-bolter in the same location.
The volkite destructor might be situationally useful given that the Beam ability does allow it to target a specific location without the -2 penalty and can also allow the player to ignore hit penalties associated with cover or wargear such as Legio Venator Blind Launchers. All of the numbers provided in the charts above assume a BS of 3+. Reduce the BS to 4+ would mean the average of the direct fire (not Blast) would only be 75% of the chart value while reducing it to 5+ would mean the average is only 50% of the chart value. If you can find a way to break enemy Armour, playing on a terrain heavy map, or are a fan of the Cursed Earth Stratagem, then it might be worth looking at. Personally I think both weapons should have Beam, and for the points maybe they should not have Draining. That would separate them from the other weapons and make for an interesting trade-off.
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