While the Custodian Guard have been out for Horus Heresy for a long time now, the resin weapon upgrades are relatively new – so I thought I’d crunch the numbers on the Pyrithite vs. Adrasite spears. I’m not even going to pretend this is timely – truth be told, I’m working on my Custodes, trying to decide on which weapon to give a teleporting anti-tank squad, and figured if I’m running the numbers for myself, I might as well give them to you too.
Killing the Big Monsters
Truth be told, I’m worried about superheavy tanks. My 3000 point Talons list has…well, not very much that can threaten a serious superheavy, at least not until I’m up in their face. So our first comparison is against an AV 14, 5 HP vehicle. A Spartan, basically. Five HP is the most any of these guns will do without converting some Explodes! results for superheavies, so we’ll go with it. And while it’s not enough to one-shot a Fellblade or the like, it might be enough to give it a good scare.
First, just the raw number of glancing or penetrating hits. The purple is the Melta Beam, while the sky blue is the Adrathic Destructor. Here there’s a clear winner – the Melta can destroy the tank outright a small but non-zero number of times, and consistently does enough hull points to seriously threaten it, while in turn almost never doing nothing. In contrast, due to the lower base Strength, the Adrathic Destructor struggles mightily to do more than chip wounds away. And with AP 1 and more of these hits being Penetrating, the Melta Beam is also more likely to trigger an important result like Explodes or Immobilized.
But at what cost? If we normalize the results by the cost of the weapon, the Adrathic weapon is still inferior, but not by nearly the same margin. Ideally, you’d like to see these two curves overlap each other – the discount offset entirely by worse performance. We’re not there yet, which still makes the Adrathic weapon worse rather than a cheaper alternative.
Even if you’re really points strapped, and the choice is 4 Pyrithite Spears vs. 5 Adrasite Spears, the Pyrithite come out ahead – though again, the margin narrows.
Your (Melta) Weapons are Useless
The scenarios above are something of a skewed setup in the Melta-spear’s favor. What if your local meta – or the events you go to, has at least one guy whose willing to pay for Armored Ceramite?
Things swiftly turn sour for the melta-spear. Consider the figure below:
The Adrathic weapon is now actively superior – anyone can tell you that Str 8 + 1d6 is a tall order to get up to 14. And when you factor cost into account…
Yikes. The Pyrithite spear goes from being the effective, albeit expensive, choice to being the decided lesser of the two weapons, both less efficient and lacking raw effectiveness as well.
What about a slightly weaker, but still threatening foe? The AV 13 Leviathan/Contemptor that’s effectively out of danger and capable of tarpitting most Custodes units unless they’ve taken extra equipment?
Without Armored Ceramite:
With Armored Ceramite:
The Pyrithite holds its edge, being better without armored ceramite by a good margin (and indeed, having a solid chance of just scything down a Dreadnought) and even in the armored ceramite scenario being carried by its higher strength. Here, the Adrathic weapon heads towards the role of the “budget” choice much better:
You accept higher variance and lower performance from the Adrathic weapon in exchange for a proportionately lower cost. The cleanness of this graph makes it almost feel like the weapons were calibrated against this scenario. It really is a lovely example of a balanced exchange, and is officially my second favorite example after the old Doom of Mymeara Wraithknight weapons.
The Question of Range
For me, this is the biggest, and hardest to model, question. Asking a Melta Beam to be within half-range is a tall order at the best of times, because we’re talking about 3″. Outside of that range you’re effectively always in the “Armored Ceramite” scenario, and asking a Deep Striking squad to be within 3″ is essentially saying “Stick the landing or die trying.”
And this is where I think the difference shakes out. 12″ is a far superior effective range. There’s room for deviation on Deep Strike, or preventing a single 25mm based model from being enough bubblewrap to push you out of melta range. In that context, I think the Adrasite spears become the far more reliable choice – a solid budget choice that will do work vs. AV 13, and nearly as good or better against AV 14 in all but the most melta-favorable scenarios. I’m a pessimist by nature, and my Heresy gaming is predominantly travel based, so there’s definitely an aspect of “I’m never going to plan to not run into Armored Ceramite”.
Where I think the Pyrithite has its strongest place is, unlike many melta weapons, not in a dedicated anti-tank unit. The hard-hitting power, combined with the short range, I think makes it ideal for spreading around in single or in pairs into Custodes squads to distribute some of that killing power, and give them some punch against units that can be expected to approach them – Contemptors, Leviathans, etc. Here both range and the prevalence of armored ceramite is less of a thing, and stripping a hull pint – or a lucky Explodes penetrating hit – is a much bigger deal.
So there we are. I think Pyrithite for the masses (where the Emperor’s elite super-super-soldiers are ‘the masses’), Adrasite for dedicated anti-vehicle squads gives you the best balance of cost, reliability and killing power. I’ll be honest – this was the opposite of what I was expecting, and how I built my list before crunching the numbers.
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