The Haemotrope Reactors rules are out and they make for quite an interesting new fortification. Basically, for 8 MBs, you get two Haemotrope Reactors (with the option to buy up to two more pairs in the same Fortifications slot for 8 MBs per pair), which give any non-vehicle/non-MC unit behind them a 4+ cover save, with the drawback of any cover saves of 6+ potentially causing a Reactor Leak (on a subsequent roll of 1, the unit in question takes D6 S6 AP- Ignore Cover hits). They also give nearby friendly Void Shields the ability to re-roll failed “regeneration” rolls and and improves the strength of a friendly nearby Plasma Obliterator from S7 AP2 to S8 AP2.
While all these bonuses are nice, this is not the main reason anyone would take this fortification. Any non-vehicle models bearing Plasma weapons (as defined by the Main Rule Book; technically, this means only Plasma Pistols, Plasma Guns, and Plasma Cannons, but according to the recent Facebook FAQ, Skitarii Plasma Calivers, Cult Mechanicus Plasma Culverins, Dark Angel Plasma Talons, Tau Plasma Rifles, Carnifex Bio-Plasma, and Exocrine Bio-Plasmic Cannons are also included in this overall category, as long as they have the word “Plasma” in their name) can choose to “Charge up” their weapons, making all normal shots (i.e. Plasma Pistols and Guns) into Small Blasts and Small Blasts (i.e. Plasma Cannons) into Large Blasts. The drawback to this ability is that, in doing this, they also increase their Get’s Hot! from occurring just on 1s to occurring on 1s AND 2s (so going from a 16% chance to about a 33% chance).
This is obviously a defensively oriented bonus, since units have to stay basically static near the Haemotrope Reactors to take advantage of it, and so has very limited use for Plasma Pistols, with their 12″ range. Plasma Guns are better, with the ability to shoot out to 24″ (or if you opponent is foolish enough to come within 12″, “double tap” with lots of Small Blasts). Plasma Cannons I think are the best here, with 36″ range, meaning they can threaten much of the board without having to move, and a large blast S7 AP2 is quite a solid threat, especially given how reasonably priced Plasma Cannons are compared to other Heavy Weapons.
Based on this, let’s look at what codices have access to Plasma Cannons on non-vehicle units:
-Space Marines/Blood Angels (Devastators, Tactical Marines, Sternguard, Techmarine Servitors)
-Dark Angels (Devastators, Tactical Marines, Techmarine Servitors, Deathwing Terminators)
-Space Wolves (Long Fangs, Iron Priest Servitors)
-Chaos Space Marines (Obliterators)
-Astra Militarum (Tech-Priest Servitors)
-Cult Mechanicus (Kataphron Destroyers)
-Inquisition (Servitor Henchmen)
Of these, the best I think are Long Fangs (can take 5 Plasma Cannons in a single squad, plus Split Fire, plus their Pack Leader can take a Plasma Gun than can become a Small Blast at 24″), Deathwing Terminators (by far the most durable unit that can take a Plasma Cannon, especially against any Get’s Hot wounds), Kataphron Destroyers with Plasma Culverins (two shots per model at 24″!), and Inquisitorial Henchman (most economical option by far… for 12 MBs, you get a squad of three Plasma Cannon Servitors).
Out of these options, I think the clear winner in terms of competitive gaming is an Inquisatorial Henchman Warband, equipped as follows:
-3 Servitors with Plasma Cannons (60 points)
-Chimera with Psybolts (60 points)
Attach an Ordos Xenos Inquisitor with Servo-Skulls (can help with DSing allies and even make the Plasma Blasts more accurate) and Conversion Beamer (80 points total), so the Servitors don’t Mindlock, and you have a very potent little unit that costs 200 points and can bunker in the Chimera (Inquisitorial Chimeras have firing points for up to 5 units) and put out 3 x S7 AP2 Large Blasts at 36″ per turn, as long as it is within 2″ of friendly Haemotrope Reactors.
You can take two of these battle groups in an Inquisitorial Detachment, giving you an excellent little anti-infantry firebase for quite a reasonable price (costs of two squads like this, plus Haemotrope Reactors, is 440 points total). This gives you 6 x S7 AP2 Large Blasts (Plasma Cannons), 12 x S6 AP4 shots (Chimera Psybolt Heavy Bolters), and 2 x S8 AP4 Small Blasts (Conversion Beamers) at 36″ range, which should be able to deal with light and heavy infantry alike (and even light vehicles as well).