Focus articles examine a particular piece of equipment or weapon. Here, Tim Bancroft takes a detailed look at the plasma bombard
The plasma bombard can be used by the Freeborn, Concord and Senatex, each able to take the weapon at FL2 or higher. It is intented to be a high-power, anti-tank weapon, able to take on even heavy tanks or combat skimemrs such as the Algoryn Liberator and C3’s M25, but is also useful to taking out Ghar batlesuits and the lighter, Res 13 vehicles.
The plasma bombard is a heavy weapon and needs a Fire action to shoot – it cannot shoot on an Advance – and it gains no Acc bonus for using the Fire order. Like other heavy weapons, the bombard needs more crew (3+) and is not as nimble as light support weapons such as the plasma cannon.
|Plasma Bombard||50||100||200||1×SV9||–||Large, M4, Res 13|
These constraints are not surprising as the lighter plasma cannon is a medium anti-tank gun, whilst the bombard is a heavy anti-tank weapon. Though it has a very long range and a strike value of 9 – one of the highest in the game – it is a direct fire weapon. The question in a sceptic’s mind is simply whether the relatively static constraints, range and SV are really worth the extra points or whether an C3M250-class (for Concord or Freeborn) is a better option.
The answer is a surprising ‘yes’, though such a conclusion may not, at first, seem obvious.
To start with, like other heavy weapons, the bombard is Large, which means it can shoot over the heads of normal sized troops in between it and the target. Whilst the natural targets for the bombard are easily seen, typically also being Large, the advantage for the bombard is that it can ignore its own infantry screen to take out predatory skimmers or attacking infantry. Here, like its smaller cousin, the bombard is surprisingly effective against tough infantry squads like SD Hazard troopers or Ghar battlesuits: when a pin and a casualty is needed, its SV really affects those Res saves!
This brings us to a surprisingly subtle difference between the plasma cannon and the bombard. Both the mag cannon and plasma cannon are useful against the plentiful M4 and T7 drones, but have limited effectiveness versus heavy tanks such as the Bastion. The plasma cannon, for example, takes a heavy tank’s Res from 15 down to 8, ensuring a pin on a hit but not really affecting the tank’s save compared with a mag cannon (from Res 9 to an 8). Whilst the plasma bombard might appear to only bring the save down by just two more, to 6, it’s actually the inverse stat we need to look at: the bombard doubles the chance of damaging a heavy vehicle. This simple statistic can really add up in the short span of a game.
The plasma bombard also has a rather sneaky, but significant, advantage against opponents taking shelter inside buildings. It has an SV high enough to overcome the damage threshold of most buildings so can shoot at a building, rather than the occupying troops. This means it does not suffer any penalty for shooting at units within a building and the ‘Collateral Damage’ rule means the bombard’s hit both damages the building and randomly damages a unit taking shelter inside.
And, given its high SV, most walls will collapse after a couple fo hits from a bombard.
Of course, opponents may try to flee before the building comes down, in which case a nearby light support drone or strike team can deal with the fleeing occupants. But even when such close support is unavailable, the bombard’s impressive range means that almost anything fleeing the building and still in line of sight is a potential target.
This highlights yet another advantage: there is no escape from the plasma bombard other than to hide. Proving it has line of sight, the bombard’s range means almost everything on a table is a potential target – providing the bombard can see it. This is its weakness: the relatively low manoeuvrability may make it vulnerable as it has to be put where it can see – which is why it has batter buddies – but there is nothing wrong in placing the plasma bombard in covering terrain to add to its save rolls.
All this means that a carefully positioned bombard commands the table and its range, power and resilience means an opponent has to think twice before moving their expensive combat skimmer or crawler into its sights. The plasma bombard is a multi-purpose, hard-hitting, long range weapon that adds a surprisingly cheap compared to a C3M250 and is an effective options in the Concord commander’s toolkit. Any opponent resisting the helpful embrace of the IMTel quickly learns to respect the bombard’s capabilities.
I think I’ll take two…