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"Pink isn't a color. It's a lifestyle." - Chumbalaya
"...generalship should be informing list building." - Sir Biscuit
"I buy models with my excess money" - Valkyrie whilst a waitress leans over him

Monday, July 12, 2010

Mistake Mondays: Ten Little Things You Are (Probably) Doing Wrong

For maximum effect, read that title in your best "mainstream media broadcaster" voice and finish it up with "We'll tell you the things that may be killing your Space Marines around the house without you knowing it. But up first: a look at the new Martha Stewart sex tape scandal."

This is (hopefully) going to be a series of articles about common mistakes I see while playing the game. Partly it will discuss playstyle mistakes- ways in which you do things wrong that may be hurting your game. Largely, though, it will focus on rules mistakes that I commonly see while playing and that I think are widespread through the Warhammer 40K player base. While sometimes minor, I think they are all things that can have a very real impact on a game, possibly turning things around.

#1: Pre-game Terrain
This is a big one, and it can easily get lost in the rush to figure out a strategy, place objectives and models, etc, but it's an easy step to avoid an ugly dispute or rude surprise later in the game. Before you get started- probably right after you say "Hi" to your opponent- mutually figure out what all the terrain on the board is. Does anything offer a cover save that isn't 4+? Which pieces are area terrain? What are their borders? The last part is especially important for ruins, which often have an outside section that is not occupied by the building, but may be considered part of the terrain piece. Which impassible pieces can skimmers and jump infantry land on? Are there any special rules/considerations relating to any of the pieces?

#2: Morale and Pinning Checks
These are rather important but still very easy to miss, as they're normally called for in the middle of the turn sequence and can slip under the radar. The big one I've seen is units disembarking from a wrecked/exploded vehicle- both must take an immediate Pinning check (though in the case of an explosion it may be redundant due to the Morale check forced by casualties.) Make it a habit to scan the field for units that need to test Morale as you finish up your shooting phase and before moving to assaults. While it may seem pointless to do so against all those Ld9/10 MEQ armies, every chance to force the enemy out of position and deny them shooting with heavy/rapid fire weapons is worthwhile.

#3: Walkers, Close Combat, and Damage Results
A walker that has been Shaken, Stunned, or Immobilized is still allowed to fight in close combat normally, although launching an assault obviously isn't an option for either of the latter results. Stunned and/or Immobilized walkers suffer a -1A penalty (which is not cumulative), but will otherwise remain locked in CC. Also remember that a Dreadnought with no CCWs left may continue to fight, but will not double its strength (and so is probably S6) nor will it ignore armor saves- and some walkers, especially the Rifleman Dread, lack any CCWs to start.

#4: Walkers and Close Combat, Part 2
Being a hybrid of the normal vehicle and infantry rules, it's no surprise that walkers are the source of a lot of confusion. It isn't hard to remember that you always strike front armor, but it's easy to forget that grenades (Krak or Melta, and theoretically Frag as well, though why would you?) may be used against walkers much as they would be other vehicles. However, unless the walker is immobilized at the beginning of the assault phase, they will only hit on a roll of 6. (If they are stunned or immobile, you use a normal WS comparison.) Note that, unlike the usual vehicle rules, you only benefit from those damage results with regard to grenades if they have suffered the result before the fight has begun.

#5: Dangerous Terrain
Dangerous Terrain checks are made on a model-by-model basis- you don't simply roll once for the whole squad and then remove members as you see fit based on the casualties you have taken. Note, however, that this means that units of multiwound models do not have to remove a casualty even if they roll several '1's. You never need to make more than one Dangerous Terrain test for a single movement, although several different moves (normal and assault, etc) might force several checks during the course of a turn. Like Difficult Terrain, any unit which has to make a Dangerous Terrain check as part of an assault strikes at Initiative 1 unless it has grenades.

#6: Weapon Ranges
Check range on your guns when shooting! And not just yours, your opponent's as well. Not only does this get you in the practice of judging distances, which is an important part of being good at the game, you may also luck out and have an enemy's shot miss automatically because they are out of range. (It may happen to you, too, of course, but that's only fair- and anyways, isn't that why you're practicing, so that doesn't happen anymore?) Having a variety of "reference points" will also help when making difficult distance judgements- like whether or not to move in and try Rapid Firing with a unit on your coming turn, or whether your Fleet + Assault will be enough to reach the enemy. In cases where it's super obvious you needn't measure (as doing so mostly just annoys your opponent and slows the game down), but if you are at all unsure then get that ruler out. (Having a rigid metal extending ruler, especially one with a slide-lock, helps a lot here.)

#7: Partial Cover
Units- including squadrons of vehicles- always determine cover on an all-or-nothing basis. If 50% or more of the members are "in cover" (which may mean checking the 50% coverage rule for MCs and vehicles), then the whole unit is allowed to take the appropriate cover save. If less than 50% of them are in, no members are allowed to take cover saves.

#8: Multiple Barrages
When a "hit" is rolled for one of the later shots of a multiple barrage, the blast template may be placed anywhere that touches or overlaps the original shot. Though the wording in the rulebook is awkward, the accompanying illustration makes it clear that the template does not need to be perfectly overlaid with the original; it can be partly overlapping, providing you score the maximum number of hits possible.

#9: Tank Shocking and Ramming
Only tanks can tank shock or ram. The big offenders here are Trukks (without the Reinforced Ram upgrade, at least), Raiders (likewise without the upgrade), Vypers, Piranhas, and Land Speeders, none of which are able to make such attacks. Remember also that both special movements prohibit any movement except a pivot in place followed by proceeding forward in a straight line. Tank shocks must declare distance and allow the vehicle to fire any weapons it normally could afterward; rams always move full speed, and do not allow shooting of any kind.

#10: Immobilized vehicles
Vehicles suffering from an immobilized result may not pivot at all (which makes the fire arcs of their guns very relevant) and are hit automatically in close combat, no matter how fast they moved in the previous turn. Note, however, that since all damage results are rolled for during each initiative step simultaneously, you would need to strike at a different initiative to benefit from a squadmate's attacks (say, Marines with grenades and a Power Fist...)

Ending caveat: this, or any of my rules-related articles are not encouragements to be Rules Jerks. What is a Rules Jerk? He's the guy that wanders over to your table when you're playing a game and points out all the things you're doing wrong, however minor. He's the guy that always has a (loud) opinion every time a rules discussion comes up and he can't admit that any other interpretation could possibly be correct. He's the self-righteous know-it-all that ruins games with his knowledge rather than helping out. Don't be that guy. Be polite and sensible about the game and offer your advice only if it's asked for. Don't fuss over minor details of a game you're playing in, especially if your opponent isn't as good as you.

In summary, treat other games like human beings. It doesn't seem like the sort of thing that needs to be said, but for some reason...

Coming soon: more 'Ard Boyz reports.

17 pinkments:

Matt Varnish said...

One thing that for us, locally, has brought up a tonne of questions is turrets.. more specifically, the lack of turrets in the rules. For example, a whirlwind, by the rules, does not have a turret, in the current SM codex. And since the free pivot to face is done in the movement phase now, you have to "aim" your whirlwind to point in the direction of your target beforehand. I used to simply park my whirlwind sideways behind a building for better hiding, until this was brought up to me.

To add to the mess of the Codices not specifying what has a turret and what does not, are the rules regarding line of sight and weapons. This says that, even if glued down, it can be assumed that it has the range of motion modelled on. Does this mean then that jackasses can model a medusa to have a turret mounted Siege gun? Nowhere that I can find does it say what each gun does, apart from the diagrams, which really, are just fluff to the rules lawyers out there?

What are your thoughts

PS It should be noted I model for disadvantage, lol, as in, my Leman Russ Chassis vehicles have no turrets modelled on, the guns are hull mounted, and mounted on chimera tracks, so that they are lower to the ground ( I play converted squats, so it fits, though an immobilised result is more devastating for me than for other IG players)

grav said...

You know what I just realized? I do this ^ Not very annoyingly I hope but I sometimes give un-asked-for advice or correct rule interpretations. Oh god.. I'm.. That Guy..

grav said...


Do your vehicles also have a lower profile?
Are they easier to hide behind eachother?

Significantly changing the design of a vehicle is a slippery slope..

Matt Varnish said...

Every vehicle has the lower profile, and if I hide them behind one another, I cant shoot anything, since the gun is hull mounted. So I can't pull what everyone does with their stuff, which is shove a chimera in front to grant it 4+ cover while firing the main gun.

As for 'that guy' every group club has one, its hard to hear 2 people playing something wrong and not interject, though famously, one of our seasoned vets, tired of having the 'back seat driver' tell his opponent what to do for everything, finally just tells Back Seat: " OK, my chaos knights are charging his unit of spearmen, what is YOUR charge reaction"!! Guy got the point, and shut up, for about ten minutes.. then started over at another table...

I'll usually tell people after the fact what they did was wrong, so lets say they are playing a phase wrong or some such, after the guy actually commits to the action, I might say "by the Way, that actually doesn;t play like that, but now you know for next time" while trying to not sound like a douche.

grav said...

I do thesame thing in casual games, explain how it works so they'll do it right in the next game.

JRV said...

It has a turret if it has a turret =) Whirlwind can spin, same as a pred.

Pintle are 360.

Brent said...

AbusePuppy: what, no abuse?

You promised in your intro to curse... a lot!

What happened?

Besides the lack of abuse, this is a great start, dude.

Meister_Kai said...

This article (and series, willing) is awesome. As a newish player I strive to play the game with the utmost rules knowledge to the best of my ability, to build good habits from day one and not have to go through the gaming dark ages that is playing the game the wrong way.

Keep this series going Puppy, this is the kind of stuff people like me need to be reading.

Also, just to "that guy", Raiders can tank shock if you give them Torture Amps.

AbusePuppy said...

Sorry, mang, I can only get away with so much. Shoot me an email and I'll give you all the cursing you though, kay?

Specifying what kind of mount weapons are on would be a huge help for folks, yeah. I know a while back there was a huge clusterfuck over whether Exorcist weapons were turret-mounted or not. (I believe the FAQ covers it now, but...)

As long as you're chill about it and folks are appreciative, it's really okay. It's the guy that (as Matt mentions) barges his way into every game to tell people the right way to play that is a jackass.

*shakes fist at the angry sky* Curse you, horribly outdated codex with obscure and useless upgraaaaaaaaaades! Noted and edited.

The_King_Elessar said...

I interrupt if one player is cheating, and the other doesn't know. But I try to do it in the nicest possible way - I don't shout cheat or anything.

I think it is important to minimise cheating in our hobby, and part of that is promoting rules knowledge among players, by encouraging them to check things they distrust.

brent said...

Abuse Puppy, please cite all of the pages in the rule book for these.

Eltnot said...

You should add in another. If you wish to get out of a vehicle and act normally, the vehicle may not move beforehand. This includes pivoting on the spot. Pivoting on the spot doesn't count as movement for the purposes of shooting, but it's still movement in regards to everything else. I have to pull people up on that at about every second tournament that I attend.

AbusePuppy said...

I've got at least three or four more of these coming, and possibly more than that depending on how I divide things up. Rest assured that we'll cover a variety of mistakes, screw-ups, whoopsies, and general SNAFUs of the rules.

Kirby said...

Good list Puppy and I'll add it to the Author Article series page :)!

theirontower said...

The Official GW FAQs cover turrets and weapon mountings.

AbusePuppy said...

Some of them. They talk about, for example, the Rhino Storm Bolter and Exorcist launcher, but many other vehicles in the game have undefined weapon types. Their _models_ are generally pretty clear, with a few exceptions, but doesn't actually help if someone has a kitbash or other conversion.

And some of them are not all that clear. Is the Raider's Dark Lance a pintle mount or hull mount? Likewise the Ravager. Ork vehicles... who even knows? It's generally not a huge deal, but it's annoying they didn't add an extra word or two to clarify it.

lyracian said...

You got me on number four. Did not know granades needed a six to hit a walker.

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