Sunday, 26 January 2014

Blasts and Cover

The Space Marine Vindicator is the bane of my existence.

A 24" S10 AP1 Large Blast is a very nasty weapon to be the target of under any circumstances.

On Friday night while playing against Space Wolves I fell pray to one of the weirdest situations you can encounter with a weapon of this type.  And I had no idea at the time whether or not we played the rules out correctly.

Basically, I had a unit of Crisis Suits and Drones hidden carefully behind some solid terrain.  To the enemy Vindicator they were completely out of line of sight.  However, I did have another unit of Markerlight Drones with a Commander attached to them nearby who could be seen and targeted.

So in comes the shot and it scatters into the Crisis Suits.  Here comes rule number one from Basic Rule Book p33:

Note that is it possible, and absolutely fine, for a shot to scatter beyond the weapon's maximum or minimum range and line of sight.

And again from the same page:

In these cases, hits are worked out as normal and can hit and wound units out of range and line of sight.

And finally:

Once the number of hits inflicted on the unit has been worked out, roll To Wound and save as normal.  Any unsaved Wounds are then allocated on the unit as for a normal shooting attack.

Sorry, I forgot about the FAQ Errata as well:

Add to the end of the final paragraph: “Remember to keep the wounds inflicted by weapons with the Blast special rule in their own wound pool, and that wounds from this pool can be allocated to the closest model in the target unit even if it is out of sight of any models from the attacking unit”.

So this is pretty clear so far with regard to our particular situation?  Well it's not so lets break it down:

1) Blast scatters onto a unit that is not in Line of Sight
2) Hits are determined by the number of units under the marker (so lets say there were 6 wounds).
3) To Wound rolls are made, lets assume all 6 Hits are converted to Wounds (it's an S10 blast and my opponent is lucky!)
4) Errr....This is where the problems start.

Normally we would allocate Wounds and take Saving Throws at this point but the Blast rule says we should do the Saves before allocating the Wounds, then allocate the Wounds as per a normal Shooting attack!!  Furthermore, the Errata talks about Wound Allocation, and how they can be allocated to the closest model in the target unit even if this is out of line of sight of any models from the attacking unit.

What a mess this is....  Let's look at normal Wound Allocation if all the Saving Throws are identical (I'll paraphrase here rather than the exact wording from p15 of the Basic Rule Book):

Target unit gets to make one saving throw if they have one for each Wound being resolved.  Note how many are unsaved.  Allocate the unsaved Wounds to the model closest to the firing unit.  Continue allocating wounds to that model until it dies!

If it was mixed saves:

Allocate a Wound from the wound pool to the model closes to the firing unit, take the saving throw, then continue as above.

So this is the first assumption:

The Blast Rule assumes everyone has the same saving throw.

This is easy to sort out.  Step 4 becomes the following two steps:

4a) If the unit all has the same Saving Throw, take your saving Throws and allocate wounds as normal from the closest model to the firing unit.
4b) If the unit have mixed Saving Throws, allocate the first wound to the closest model to the firing unit and take your Saving Throw, then carry on with this process until the Wound pool is empty.

Now in the case of our Vindicator, it's AP1.  So that normally puts us into step 4a.  But you might be lucky and have an Invulnerable Save to fall back on so you're into step 4b.  But what about Cover Saves?  That's a Saving Thow and it might be better than your Invulnerable Save... And you might want to Go To Ground as well (probably very useful in this situation).  Let's check the rule on p18:

If, when you allocate a Wound, the target model's body is 25% obscured from the point of view of at least one firer, Wounds allocated to that model receive a cover save.

Now obviously the wording here is totally cock-eyed again.  Like the Blast rule, the Cover Save rule has made an assumption, but this time it's assuming you have gone for the "mixed saves" method of allocating Wounds.

To re-iterate, this is the second assumption:

The Cover Saves rule assumes you are allocating wounds in an environment of mixed saving throws.

So we are in a situation where the model in question is 100% obscured from the firer!  But by the letter of the law, in this instance we are allowed to allocate that wound to a model out of line of sight.

So even though it would make sense to determine cover provided by shelter between the Blast and the Model, we have to calculate it between the wounded Model and the Model who is firing!

So if we go down this path, my Crisis Suits were stood with a hill between the them and Vindicator.  The Cover Chart on p18 doesn't cover this (only Razor Wire, Forests and Area Terrain, Runs, ruined Fortifications and Trenches, and Fortifications).  So if we start reading at p90 of the Battlefield Terrain rules, eventually I found Ridgeline/Hill Crest definition on p105.  This would give me a 4+ Cover Save, or a 3+ Cover Save if I Go To Ground.

We didn't play this rule during the game.  I just went to ground with no other Cover Save and proceeded to get hurt Very Badly Indeed(TM).

So anyway, that's my take on the whole situation.  If you're wanting rules as (badly) written I think we have to assign a cover save based on the terrain between the firer of the Blast weapon and the target models.  Even if this would seem ridiculous.  

And if you can't find a specific value from the rulebook for the value of the save, I'd roll a D3 and go with 

1 = 6+ 

2 = 5+ 

3 = 4+

or something similar. 

So have fun out there with this, and remember:  Vindicators must die!

As an aside, we always played with the hole of a Blast directly over the middle of the models base.  We now know it can actually be placed anywhere on the targets base as long as it is completely over.

Thursday, 23 January 2014

How Tau interact with Overwatch and Interceptor

Please note:  The following text is based upon my opinion and interpretation of the rules in Warhammer 40k 6th Edition.  I've tried to back up everything I've mentioned with facts and definitions from the Basic Rule Books and Codexes to try and make my conclusions seem logical.  Your own mileage with this may vary.


As a Tau commander my primary goal is to drink the tears of my enemy...  Usually these are collected in receptacles knows as "Tear Cups".  Tau have got some of the most over-powered and competitive units currently available in the game, and some of their wargear seems positively broken.  These facts alone are enough to make your opponents cry.

For some people, the Multi-Tracker is probably the most broken item of equipment in the whole Codex.  This item is automatically included with every Suit the Tau can field (so Stealth, Crisis, Broadside and Riptide) and what it does is pretty amazing.  This is the official definition from p69 of Codex Tau Empire:

A model with a multi-tracker can fire an additional weapon in each Shooting phase.

To me, this seems straight forward enough.  In each Shooting phase I can fire an additional weapon!  Now we have to make a basic assumption here... By Shooting phase, I would have to presume it means my own Shooting phase and does not include my enemies Shooting phase.  This is because I don't normally shoot in my enemies Shooting phase and the word "additional" would infer that at least one weapon has been fired.

Worth noting at this stage that the Multi-Tracker does not confer any rights per se to fire weapons in my Enemies turn, or to fire any weapons in any other phase other than the Shooting phase.

What is the Shooting phase?   Let's define that for a moment... In fact, it might also be worth while reminding people of the entire Player Turn (with the Game Turn consisting of one Player Turn for each Player), just so we are clear on the separation (see Basic Rule Book p9):

Movement phase 
Here, you move any of your units that are capable of doing so.

Shooting phase 
You now shoot with any of your units that are capable of doing so.

Assault phase 
During the Assault phase, units declare charges in the Charge sub-phase and trade blows with their enemies in the Fight sub-phase.  All units in close combat fight, this is an exception to the normal turn sequence in that both sides fight, not just the side whose turn it is.

Hopefully this is simple enough.  When it is your turn, you may move in the Movement phase, shoot in the Shooting phase (and this is where the Multi-Tracker allows you to fire an additional weapon) and you may declare a charge and resolve melee attacks in the Assault phase.

Interestingly, it's the Assault phase where things start to unravel... In the Assault phase, once you have declared a charge against an enemy unit, this unit gets to declare an Overwatch attack against the charging unit.  This is defined quite clearly in the Basic Rule Book on p21:

An Overwatch attack is resolved like a normal shooting attack (albeit one resolved in the enemy's Assault phase) and uses all the normal rules for range, line of sight, cover saves and so on. Unlike a normal shooting attack, Overwatch cannot cause Morale checks or Pinning tests. Any shots fired
as Overwatch can only be fired as Snap Shots (see page 13 for more on Snap Shots). Therefore, weapons and models that cannot fire Snap Shots cannot fire Overwatch.

So the big question a Tau Commander is going to ask:  Will the Multi-Tracker allow me to fire an additional weapon during an Overwatch attack?

In order to answer this we will require a definition for a "normal shooting attack" which is directly referenced within the Overwatch rule.  Luckily such a definition exists in the Basic Rule Book on p12, but you have to look really hard to find it:

During the Shooting phase, a unit containing models armed with ranged weapons can be nominated to make shooting attacks.

And how many shooting attacks can a model or unit make per Shooting phase?   Check out p51 of the Basic Rule Book:

Unless otherwise stated, if a model has more than one Shooting weapon, he must choose which one to shoot - he cannot fire both in the same Shooting phase.

As it seems to be that a shooting attack is made by a shooting weapon, I think it's finally pretty safe to make the following definitive statement:

A Multi-Tracker does not affect the number of shooting attacks that you are able to make during an Overwatch attack, as this occurs during the enemy Assault phase.  You are therefore limited to a single Overwatch attack consisting of a single shooting attack.


For those of you that are unfamiliar with the Interceptor rule the relevant bit is on p38 of the Basic Rule Book:

At the end of the enemy Movement phase, a weapon with the Interceptor special rule can be fired at any one unit that has arrived from reserve within its range and line of sight.

Although you could say that Interceptor is a shooting attack made in the enemies Movement phase, there is no definition of Interceptor except as a characteristic of a weapon.  For the Tau, this is particularly fun for a unit with the following bits of kit:

Early Warning Override
All weapons on a model with an early warning override have the Interceptor special rule. 

What this means is (unlike Overwatch) a Tau unit with Early Warning Override could fire ALL it's weapons at the end of the enemies Movement phase.  Of course, there is a downside to doing that, but you'll have to read the rule entry in the Basic Rule Book to find out more.


If you want your mind completely blown, check the following piece of Tau wargear from p69 of the Codex Tau Empire:

Target Lock
A model with a target lock can shoot at a different target to the rest of his unit.

Read that again, then tell me if a model with a Target Lock and an Early Warning Override can fire at some other random target that hasn't arrived from Reserves or Deep Strike that turn, so long as the rest of it's unit fires at the one that has?  Tell me if this means a model with a Target Lock can fire at a non-charging unit during Overwatch while the rest of the unit fires at the charging unit?

Now THAT is completely broken if you ask me.


Advanced Targeting System - Doesn't work (Shooting phase only)
Blacksun Filter - Works
Counterfire Defense System - Works (of course!)
Drone Controller - Works
(Networked) Markerlight - Hell yeah!
Pulse Accelerator - Works
Velocity Tracker - Works (any shooting attack) 
Command and Control Node - Doesn't work (specifically stated)
Multi-Spectrum Sensor Suite - Doesn't work either!
Neuroweb System Jammer - Only works in the enemy Shooting phase, so no Gets Hot when they shoot Overwatch or Inteceptor :(
"Through Unity, Devestation" - Doesn't work (Shooting phase only)
"Predator of the Skies" - Doesn't work (Shooting phase only)
 Invocation of the Elements (Storm of Fire) - This is AWESOME in Overwatch!  Could work with Interceptor if you had a Pulse weapon with Interceptor.
Nova Reactor (Ripple Fire) -  Doesn't work.  It's defined as allowing the secondary weapons to "fire twice this turn" and count as having fired once, but because there is a rule about Turns on page 9 of the BRB states that "a turn" refers to a "player turn" unless it specifically states "game turn", and because Ripple Fire is activated at the start of the Tau players Movement Phase, it will only be active until the end of the Tau players turn.
Volley Fire - Doesn't work (Shooting phase only)
Structural Analyser - Doesn't work because Overwatch attacks are Snap Shots.  Would work with Interceptor Darkstrider somehow got hold of a weapon with that Special Rule.... Like a gun emplacement.
Command Link - Doesn't work (Shooting phase only)


Running is defined on p14 of the Basic Rule Book.  The pertinent point is "In their Shooting phase, units may choose to Run instead of firing".  Of course, if you think Multi-Trackers will work in Overwatch, you must also (by virtue of the "Shooting phase" wording on both rules) allow running instead of shooting during Overwatch.  Good luck trying to get your assault units into combat!


It's worth noting that there is a rule regarding Monstrous Creatures defined as follows:

Monstrous Creatures can fire up to two of their weapons each Shooting phase - they must, of course, fire both of then at the same target.

Because of the Shooting phase definition within this rule, the argument above applies to Monstrous Creatures, in exactly the same way as they do for Multi-Trackers.  Bear in mind that if you happen to have a Monstrous Creature with a Multi-Tracker, they would be able to fire 3 weapons in the Shooting phase, if of course they had 3 different weapons to fire.  They still wouldn't be able to fire all 3 in Overwatch.


A carefully hidden rule in the Basic Rule Book... Defined as follows on p52:

All models with two pistols can fire both in the Shooting phase.  This follows the normal rules for shooting.

Needless to say, the same thing applies to Gunslinger as to Multi-Trackers and Monstrous Creatures!