Relative Killy Virtues of CSM Power "Stuff"

 Apparently by trying to tweak my CSM Codex-standard 500 point army list a bit so far as the retinue of Khorne Berserkers accompanying my Undivided Chaos Lord into battle, I seem to have hit on a very polarizing topic in the community under 5th Edition Warhammer 40K rules: the relative killy virtues of Power Fists vs. Power Weapons.

 The scenario is that my Chaos Lord and a smallish number of Berzerkers (say, 5, one of whom is a Skull Champion) are piled into a Rhino APC to rush across the battlefield, pile out under cover of smoke grenades and supporting firepower and then run at a charge, howling for blood to be spilt and frothing at the mouth with maniacal anticipation.

 All things working out as planned, so the Berzerkers have Furious Charge with a bonus to Init. and Str. and an additional Attack for initiating the assault. The Chaos Lord does his bloodletting, but let's assume that there are more than enough warm bodies with pulses still standing for the Berzerkers to have their fun.

 Now if I'm understanding correctly, if the Skull Champion had a Power Weapon he would get all his attacks at a slightly higher Init. the first Assault turn, get a bonus Attack for the pistol in his off hand, an extra attack for the charge, and any hits would ignore enemy armor saves. A lot of potential hits at better-than-MEQ Initiative, in other words.

If I tooled out the Skull Champion with a Power Fist, however, he would attack with a 10 Str, get an extra attack for the charge, and cause
Instant Death to MEQ's. The down side is that in current 5th Ed. rules he wouldn't get an off-hand weapon attack unless he had another Power Fist, a Lightning Claw, or something similar. Oh, and he'd strike dead last in Initiative order with all his Power Fist attacks - there's not much point in saying he'd use his Bolt Pistol for all his carnage just for
the sake of running with a higher Init. since that kinda defeats the whole point of having him assigned a Power Fist, you can't split Assault attacks between weapons rules-wise, and the Fist is so much more intimidating.

 With only 5 Berzerkers and a worst-case scenario, the unit might all be dead before the Champion is even able to get medieval on the squad's intended victims with his Fist. Myself (being an absolute novice player), I think it would make more sense to have as many attacks at as high an Init. as possible and be able to cut through armor like butter. Judging from what I've read on various 40K-related forums, the majority opinion favors Power Fists versus Power Weapons.

 What do you folks think? I'm wondering what would be better for my small CSM force-in-progress. So far as modelling, I've got either extra-killy Power "stuff" option covered with a planned conversion for my Skull Champion.


  1. It partly depends on what you think you'll be facing really. Power fists are good for busting open armour, but you might not be seeing alot of high armour stuff at 500 points. With a power sword and furious charge you'd be hitting at S6 anyway (Bezerkers are S5 aren't they), which is pretty nasty. At 500 points I'd go power sword. At 1500 I play power fists in all my squads. Model wise you can always magnetize the arms so you can swap.

  2. In a small squad like this the Power Weapon is probably better. Just be careful not to get assaulted by a Dread and they should be fine.

  3. At 500 points, stick with the power weapon. You'll have a +1 Str on the assault anyways. In your small 500 point game, it will go farther. If you are really concerned about armor pen, attach a melta bomb to the champion. Still less points then the PF, and more effective.

    BTW, with a PF, it's Str 9, not 10. It's double the strength, and then a +1 for the charge.

  4. Thanks for weighing in with your opinions on the subject, folks! It sounds like the biggest determiners of Power Fist versus Power Weapon are the size of the game and (possibly as a consequence) the size of the squad. The impression I'm getting is that the preference for Power Fists (setting actual stats aside a moment) in larger point games is mostly due to the greater odds of coming up against harder targets coupled with the fact that in larger-sized squads of your own troops, the model with extra points spent on a Fist is more likely to survive.

    Does anybody see the loss of a secondary weapon attack in using a Power Fist over something else as being significant?

    @ Jason - Right you are about the Str values; I wasn't thinking when I added on the Furious Charge bonus before doubling the Champ's Str from the Fist. Adding a Melta Bomb for the Skull Champ is a good suggestion! It also leaves me points free to put a pintle mount twin-linked bolter on the Rhino for my planned fire support Chaos Marine unit, which is an added bonus in my opinion.



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