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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Multiple Combats: Rules & Tactics

This is by Taak but he screwed up posting times so it's under my name.

Greetings everybody,

This article has come about because alot of people including the venerable Kirby showed last night on Vassal that they didn't completely understand some of the specifics of ongoing locked combats and multiple combats. So lets look at the 3 points from page 41 (including the FAQ for the third) and what it actually means. After this we'll look at some applications to bring your approach to combat to a High Level of play in this aspect (see AbusePuppy's article here).

Rule Book, Page 41 "Attacking":

In multiple combats, when it is time for a model to attack, the following extra rules apply:

*Models that were engaged with just one of the enemy units at the beginning of the combat (before any model attacked) must attack that unit.

*Modls that were engaged with more than one enemy unit at the beginning of the combat (before any model attacked) may split their attacks freely between those units. Declare how they are splitting their attacks immediately before rolling to hit.

*Models that at the beginning of the combat (before any model attacked) were engaged with more than one enemy unit, but were in base contact with just one of the enemy units, must attack that unit.

NB: In all three bullet points, the word ‘combat’ will be changed to ‘round of combat’.

There is some confusion here because GW have not defined the beginning of the combat as well as they could have even in the errata with the 'round of combat' term. Use of 'at the beginning of that assault phase' in conjunction with 'the beginning of the combat' as well as defining the 'before any model attacked' terminology which as attacking involves moving an assault would make things much more clearer and less confusing.

Lets start with the first bullet point.

*Models that were engaged with just one of the enemy units at the beginning of the combat (before any model attacked) must attack that unit.

You've assaulted into an ongoing combat where the combatants from previous rounds are locked together against each other. At the beginning of the combat these locked units were not in combat with the unit you have just assaulted into this ongoing combat. Thus the locked units cannot attack the unit that has just assaulted them this round and only each other. From a fluff perspective they are engaged in the cut and thrust of combat doing their best not to get killed by concentrating on the swirling melee around them, then out of the blue they are smacked in the back of the head by someone that wasn't there a second ago. A unit of Space Marine Scouts is locked in combat with a unit of Ork Boyz. A unit of Nobz join the combat this turn engaging the Scouts already attacking the Ork Boyz. The Scouts can only attack the Ork Boyz, not the newly arriving Ork Nobz.

*Modls that were engaged with more than one enemy unit at the beginning of the combat (before any model attacked) may split their attacks freely between those units. Declare how they are splitting their attacks immediately before rolling to hit.

This bullet point is exactly as above except factors in huge swirling combats. A space marine scout unit is locked in combat with an ork boyz unit and a Nob unit from the previous Ork and Space Marine Turns. The Ork player charges a loota unit into the scouts in their assault phase to try and get the numbers to finally kill off those damned scouts who just won't die! The scouts aren't expecting being attacked by yet more Orks as they've been fighting hard and desperately for their lives for quite some time now and out of the blue the sergeant gets a choppa thrust through his groin from behind. The Scouts need to move in such a way to engage these new foes but that is going to take time. As such they can only allocate their attacks against the Boyz and the Nobz with whom they were locked in combat with from previous turns of combat. They can't attack the newly arrived loota's until the space marine player's next turn's assault phase assuming they are still alive by that point.

*Models that at the beginning of the combat (before any model attacked) were engaged with more than one enemy unit, but were in base contact with just one of the enemy units, must attack that unit.

This deals with locked combats where your units are in base contact with different units. The Space Marine Scouts, Ork Boyz and Ork Nobz example from above sees 2 of the scouts engaged solely with the Nobz and not the Boyz. They are counted as engaged and locked with both the Nobz and the Boyz because the rest of their unit is engaged with the Boyz, but due to the fact that they are not in base contact with the Boyz they can only attack the Nobz. Building on point two above, the Loota's charge in and engage these 2 Scouts but as they are locked in combat from previous rounds with both the Nobz and the Boyz (though can only attack the Nobz as shown by this point three) they can only attack those models from the units they are locked in combat with already which they are in base to base contact (the Nobz) and cannot attack the Loota's this round of combat.
Now, above "Attacking" as explored above on page 41 of the Rulebook is "Defenders React."

If a unit is already locked in combat from a previous turn is assaulted by a new enemy unit, it can react as normal. Its models must be moved into base contact with models from any of the units that they are fighting, not just the enemies that assaulted them.

The interesting thing here is that against a big enough unit, if you've timed your attack in terms of correct distance accurately, you can pull away enemy models from the combats which they are already locked in by up to 6 inches (so long as they weren't already engaged in base to base contact with an enemy model from the previous round of combat - remember that defenders recting to an assault MUST move into base to base contact if possible with an unengaged enemy) and as such they can be eliminated from attacking altogether this turn. This is bloody difficult to pull off at the best of times, however, when you do it successfully you are fully entitled to a happy dance. Especially in a tournament (just make sure it's big and flamboyant, arms in the air style, so people can go 'What the hell is going on there!?!). Just be sure to laugh it off lightheartedly so your sports score isn't affected. :)

Knowledge is Power: Applying this Understanding to Gameplay.

Now, with the rules clarrified for multiple combats and who can engage who, the real trick is applying this knowledge and understanding to bring your gameplay to a High Level in the assault phase, synergising this understanding of the mechanics with a good army list design and overall tactical approach to your games.

If you've spent any real time on this blog you will be familiar with the term 'Bubble Wrap.' Bubble Wrap Units are units which you employ on the field to ring or protect key units vulnerable to the enemy attacks either in combat or at range. Your opponent is forced to deal with these units enabling a range of tactical advantages to your own gameplay. Thunderbubble/Thundergate armies featured here by GWvsJohn and Kirby are one example of an effective Bubble Wrap Unit combined with a strong list but also Kroot walls protecting suits and vehicles are very common as well as bubble wrapping Imperial Guard Tanks with a variety of infantry models such that your opponent cannot assault your tanks first up and must deal with a fodder unit.

For myself, I have employed Tyranid Gaunts and Gants in games to pull in a number of tricks, not just abusing Multiple Combat rules as this article explores but also the half your unit covered by a unit gives a cover save if they are targetted at range. I personaly like to run Tervigons with a big unit of Termagants to make them troops and also a big unit of gaunts or more gants in concentric interweaving circles of models around the bigger MC's. This has several effects ingame.

First of all, by setting up cheap, expendable gants in an interweaved circled (I haven't figured out how to post Vassal Images here yet nor save them such that they are viewable, so a typed example will have to suffice: You have two units of termagants the 'd' and the 'P' unit. In each, the circle part of the letter represents the model itself, ignore the stem of the letter except to identify which unit the gant belongs to. The units are arrayed in an interweave pattern such as: dPdPdPdPdPdPdP , but imagine that this inter-woven formation is in a big circle forming a place for other circles of units within the circular space the interweaved units create in their placing) both units benefit from a 4+ cover save. Many people run units in an X style pattern which keeps the lines of units covered in all directions, but don't take that extra step of then protecting other units themselves. When the Termagant units start taking casulties you decrease the spacing of the units and the circles begin to shrink and absolute care must be taken to get the numbers positioned right to keep claiming the save off of both bubble wrap units which will be essential to ensure they make it to combat with the numbers to lock strong opponents long enough for the counter attack in your next turn of play.

With a unit of Genestealers (Scything Talons+Toxin Sacs Rock!) on the inside of an interwoven circle of termagant units, the Genestealers in effect gain a 4+ cover save from any direction as well as being a threat for multiple combat abuse. Throw a Tervigon into the dead centre of the inter-weave and all those Termagants are Fearless and so will in effect tarpit enemies long enough to allow a largely intact unit of tooled Genestealers the ability to abuse the engaged ongoing locked combats to the best of their ability and also minimise the casualties they would otherwise recieve (ie, none in the first round that they've assaulted the enemy - unless you roll shockingly and lose the combayt that is, lol). This formation, alongside the Tervigon running Toxin Sacs and Adrenal Glands or one or the other, as well as Catalyst means that you have a seriously resilient formation on the field. You have combined the best elements of Bubble Wrapping alongside Cover From Shooting Through Units with a thorough understanding of the mechanics of multiple ongoing combats as well as a synergistic list design. A Similar Formation could include 2 units of Hormagaunts, a Unit of Genestealers or Tyranid Warriors and a Hive Tyrant with Tyrant Guard and Old Adversary (Preferred Enemy Buffs WOOOO!).

The best advice to give in relation to use of the Multiple Ongoing Locked Combats and Assaulting into them With New Units is that you need to get your ranges right and understand how to run your list so as you can cause maximum damage to the opponent and minimise your own. It can be difficult at times but hopefully this article has helped open your mind to newer ways to apply your assaults and units in multiple combats.

All the Best,

Auretious Taak.

20 pinkments:

mathhammer said...

Quote "They can't attack the newly arrived loota's until the space marine player's next turn's assault phase assuming they are still alive by that point."

wrong wrong wrong wrong wrong

You can attack anybody your in base to base with. By the exact same (wrong) logic you used, You can not attack on the charge.

Maiku said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
GWvsJohn said...

Going to have to agree with the peanut gallery Taak. Sorry

Maiku said...

You are misunderstanding the text.

"Beginning of Combat" is NOT "Beginning of Assault"

The beginning of combat is AFTER units have moved and defenders have reacted but BEFORE attacks are made. Thus, since the units have moved, they are engaged in combat with anything that charged them.

As was said by mathhammer, if "beginning of combat" meant "beginning of assault" then because the unit you are charging with would not be engaged with anyone at the beginning, they wouldn't get attacks; this is the biggest flaw with your explanation.

All that these rules mean is that:

If you're in BtB with only 1 unit, you can attack only that unit.

If you're in BtB with more than 1 unit, you can choose how many attacks are being put on each unit in BtB.

The "Beginning of Combat" statement just means that, for example, if you start killing things in a higher initiative order and you opponent removes your powerfist from being in BtB, he still gets his attacks.

PS: Where is the edit button? X_X

Kirby said...

Maiku is correct Taak. Combat is not the beginning of the assault phase but rather the 3rd step of the assault phase after all assaults are declared and defenders have reacted. The rules on page 41 are written to explain how you have to allocate attacks in combats involving 3 or more units.

Circle bubble-wraps are often better deployed as smei-circles as you get greater front arc coverage but compared to the layering technique, whilst you gain cover for both units, both units can then be assaulted. For Tyranids with Fearless, this is generally bad (same with Tau who want to delay you extra long) but for units like TH/SS Termies who don't need cover, it's a good idea as your opponent is forced to multi-assault. As your opponent gets closer it's therefore a better idea to send a unit forward as a sacrifice rather than lose both wrapping units and instead use the semi-circle technique against shooting.

Good applied article outside of the rules interpretation :P.

Messanger of Death said...

I've got a post scheduled on my blog that looks at this (wait I don't have a blog, Or do I). But I stole my content from The Hogs of War (I thought I didn't have a blog)

So here it is...


Rodney said...

@ taak

the example that you provide of 2+ inter-mingling units providing each other with a cover save is now illegal in many tournaments.

if you haven't already done so, google "INATFAQ4.0" - the rule your looking for is bottom of page 5.

INATFAQ is an independent FAQ that covers all codex and main rule book and is used at many of the biggest tournaments including Adepticon etc.

its also worth noting that GW themselves now use INATFAQ rulings in their own official FAQs for codexes etc, which grants them a greater level of legitimacy.

Kirby said...

Referencing INAT is just *shudders.* Notice how INAT often shoot themselves in the foot through contradictions, need more pages than the rulebook to explain the rulebook and get some of their rulings plain wrong. Just because they get some of them right and GW FAQs it that way doesn't mean INAT is correct, how about the times INAT is completely contradicted by GW?

Messanger of Death said...

"its also worth noting that GW themselves now use INATFAQ rulings in their own official FAQs for codexes etc, which grants them a greater level of legitimacy."
Correction. They used the INAT FAQ. Past tense.

You will find that we are well aware of the INAT rule book.


Brother Loring said...

It's all been said so far, but I'll try to expand upon the comments so far...

As has been said, 'combat' is only a small part of the assault phase. It is only the part where attacks are assigned and dice are rolled. Therefore it is not synonymous with the assault phase.

Quote - "Models that at the beginning of the combat (before any model attacked) were engaged with more than one enemy unit, but were in base contact with just one of the enemy units, must attack that unit."

As Maiku has stated, this ruling is purely there for attack designation. The above ruling specifically has it's main influence on attack designation at initiative levels.

Example - My basic marine unit (5-strong) with an attached Captain are in combat with a unit of 4 gretchin and 4 ork boyz. The Captain is in BtB with Gretchin only. 2 Marines are in BtB with Gretchin only, 1 is in BtB with both a Gretchin and an Ork boy and 2 Marines are in BtB with Boyz only. Say the initiative 5 Captain goes first and wipes out the 4 remaining Gretchin. The guys that were in BtB with Gretchin only at the start of the battle may not hit the Ork Boyz even if they are in 2" of a friendly model in BtB with them as, at the beginning of the fight they were ONLY in BtB with Gretchin. The Marines in BtB with orks may now attack and the Marine that was in BtB with both units may also direct all of his attacks at the Boyz.

Brother Loring said...

Another thing to mention...

Remember the 4-way we had the other day (there was no touching, we promise) and 3 of your squads charged the Termagants. You went first at ini6/5 with one of your units and took out most of the 'Gants. I removed the ones in BtB with the guys that assaulted through cover (and would therefore go at initiative 1), but said you could still attack with them. Unlike you, you disagreed :P... but here we go....

Quote - Working out which models are engaged in combat is done at the start of the fight, and will not change until it's end, but casualties may make it difficult to remember as the fight continues, especially in a large combat.

So... despite removing the 'Gants that were in BtB with the Ini 1 guys, if there are still Gants left in the unit that they were attacking when it is their turn to swing, they must do so.

Some more combat protocol de-bunked ;-)

Brother Loring said...

With regards to your interweaving (firstly screw INAT FAQ - it's not GW Warhammer 40k, it's INAT 40k - that's not a problem, I'm sure that's fun too, but it's not the same game). It is nice if it can be done, but I have a couple of problems with it.

1 - It is a nightmare to maneuver with such a formation as the bubblewrap models have to swing around gaps in the 2nd unit to move and you therefore lose a small amount of movement. With Tau, this isn't a problem, but with an advancing Tyranid horde, even a 1" loss per turn is not good - not including the difficulties of running at different distances and maintaining the screen.

2 - You CANNOT have this formation when the enemy hits your lines. It is far too risky and you are likely to lose out greatly. Here are the problems...
(i) - 2 layers of wrap are engaged in a single maneuver. With multiple Tervigons and some lucky rolls this may not be a problem - but with fearless saves you lose Gants quickly, and can't catalyst them all!. But with 2 units of Kroot wrap for Tau this signals End Game!
(ii) - Your 2 units are more likely to cause the odd wound or 2 which means you are more likely (by no means guaranteed, but more likely) to hold in combat. This is the first no no of bubble wrap. This is not locking a unit! You want to fold after a single turn of combat. Escaping and living to fight (I mean wrap) another day is the ultimate prize, but I'd rather them go down like a (deleted for family friendliness), than hold. Otherwise, when am I going to shoot them. You'll also likely lose in combat in round 2 i.e. your turn (due to your heavy losses turn 1) and then your opponent consolidates ready to hit your lines without being shot at. Win Win for him.

This isn't at you Taak, it's more to help others understand how to use this as a tactic if they chose to do so.

Brother Loring said...

I will say I really do like some of the above thoughts though Taak and has made me have a closer look at those rules. I personally have been playing them wrong - I was taught (see - passing the buck!) that if a unit is locked and counter-charged the unit the models that were already in BtB could only attack models from the initial unit they were in CC with. Models that were not in BtB, could react and attack whomever they find themselves in CC. The latter part was correct, but I (and others) have explained where I was going wrong with the first part.

Hey... 4 in a row... that probably equals your record hey Taak? Maybe it should have been a post all in itself?

Anyways, some great thoughts within the post.

Kirby said...

Agree with Loring there. There's some gems in the article they just have to be dug up and shined :).

The_King_Elessar said...

This article annoyed me, but it has been dealt with in the comments already. All the same... :(

Rodney said...

it seems that INAT is a dirty word in these parts. Why is that ?

I've always found that one of its/their greatest advantages was that they applied the same ruling to all codexes that were affected; similarly they applied the same rule-concept & precedent to different codex-specific rules/units.

we currently use it amongst our local gaming circle, but I'm keen to hear other's experiences with it from a negative POV.

Kirby said...

Because it contradicts itself. It's bigger than the rulebook when it doesn't need to be. The rationale is based on personal opinions of individuals who are not endorsed by GW. Some of their rulings go against the rulebook. etc.

Brother Loring said...

Pssst! -

I'm sure this covers the majority of it for me!

Kirby said...

Done in lovely Stelek style. Scroll to the end. There are more rule changes and contradictions but otherwise Stelek is spot on. The rules are already written by GW, a group of people felt they needed to reproduce them...why? I love GW's new FAQ design with basically yes or no answers. It's their system, they can do whatever they bloody want so long as it doesn't effect their bottom line negatively (i.e. making T5 TWC Wolf Lords which goes against everything else in the rulebook/army books).

Da Warboss said...

a quick look at the FAQ errata should clear it up for him:

Page 41 – Multiple Combats, Attacking.
"A third bullet point should be added, as follows:
• Models that at the beginning of the combat
(before any model attacked) were engaged with
more than one enemy unit, but were in base
contact with just one of the enemy units, must
attack that unit."

So all it's really saying is you are prohibited from leaving base contact with a foe to attack some new foe involved in the same combat.If the new foe bothers to make base with you, you get to attack either foe (or both, if you wish)

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