Shas'la Cali Nate wrote:I find that Plasma Rifles (the kind we can stick on our suits right? I'm newer at this) are good as a baseline. They can function okay all around, but other guns outperform on specific roles.
The problem with Plasma Rifles is that, while their statline appears to be solid against infantry, it actually isn't. At S6 it wounds T4 (normal toughness) on 3+, the same as all of our guns. It may ignore most saves, but it also shoots one shot, sometimes two. Let's compare the Plasma Rifle and Burst Cannon, and shoot at a Space Marine:
PR: 1 shot > 0.5 hits > 0.34 wounds > 0.28 kills. [Full range]
PR: 2 shots > 1 hit > 0.67 wounds > 0.56 kills. [Half range]
BC: 4 shots > 2 hits > 1.34 wounds > 0.45 kills.
We can see that the Plasma Rifle worse than even the humble Burst Cannon, and only becomes fractionally better at 12" range, where you're likely to be charged. Since these weapons are at best equal against T4/Sv3+, it's clear that against all other weaker enemy types (Guardsmen, Necron Warriors, Guardians, Kabalites, etc.) the Burst Cannon is superior.
Now, if you're putting a Burst Cannon on an XV8, you're doing something wrong, as we can get S5 firepower from just about anywhere. If we're not using the Plasma Rifle or Burst Cannon, and the Airbursting Fragmentation Projector is junk, this leaves us with the "big three" of the Cyclic Ion Blaster, Fusion Blaster, and Flamer.
Shas'la Cali Nate wrote:Compared against Meltas, they aren't going to cut through armor as well. But that's the Metla's job, just like flamers are great for infantry but not as great against armor. Pulse or plasma rifles are a go-to for balanced firepower but not the best at any one thing (except putting out hurt at 15 inches, I've met nothing that matches massed fire for that)
Luckily, no one is suggesting to fire Pulse Rifles at tanks, that would definitely be a bad idea! However, it is amusing to note that Pulse Rifles are twice as good at killing T7 tanks when compared to Lasguns, so that's saying something