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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Infantry Platoons and Abilities from Vehicles - response to FAQ

Two major questions have arisen from the most recent FAQ (seems contradictory doesn't it?) - how Infantry Platoons interact with Dawn of War; specifically their Chimeras and whether or not they too can be placed as part of a single choice. And whether or not abilities which require Line of Sight but are not shooting attacks can be used from open-topped vehicles. We'll discuss this first and then move onto the Infantry Platoons.

The FAQ in question from the main rulebook FAQ is as follows:
"Q: Can models embarked upon a vehicle use its fire
points to draw line of sight to a unit to use special
rules or wargear (other than shooting)? (p66)
A: No."

In short this means any abilities which are not shooting attacks and require Line of Sight, cannot be used from a firepoint. The most obvious rule here which jumps to mind is Weaken Resolve for Imperial Guard Psychic Battle Squads. It's not a shooting power and it requires Line of Sight unlike many of the Eldar non-shooting psychic powers. Thus, it cannot be used from inside a vehicle via their fire points.

It's important to note this does NOT restrict auras or psychic hoods - these abilities do not require Line of Sight, they simply exist. Furthermore, Imperial Guard orders can still be used from Chimeras - they do require Line of Sight and aren't a shooting attack but thanks to the mobile command vehicle section in the Imperial Guard codex, codex trumps rulebook.

That's all easy enough to understand. The real question many are asking comes into play regarding open-topped vehicles and such abilities. The Traveller Barge for example would be a lot less useful if Anakyr cannot control vehicles from inside his Command Barge. Let's take a look.

The ruling in question relates specifically to abilities/wargear used from Fire Points but open-topped vehicles have no fire points. The question arises thusly: is the vehicle itself considered a fire point or is it a seperate rule entirely? Let's look at the exact wording as outlined on page 70.

"Open-topped vehicles do not have specific fire points. Instead, all passengers in an open-topped vehicle may fire, measuring range and line of sight from the hull of the vehicle."

Here we see open-topped vehicles do not have specific fire points but it isn't exaclty clear whether or not the vehicle is treated as a fire point itself or if it's something completely different and unique. If Games Workshop was good at their native language we could identify the word 'Instead' as a replacement of the fire point rule indicating the latter. This would allow models embarked upon open-topped transports to use abilities which are not shooting and require LoS as they are not using a fire point.

However, the wording of such implies the whole vehicle could be counted as one big fire point which allows all passengers (rather than a set number) to fire from any point of the vehicle. This would indicate abilities which require LoS and are not shooting attacks could not be used as it's being specifically restricted by the FAQ. So which is correct?

SirBiscuit explained this nicely so I'll paraphrase him - you cannot normally draw Line of Sight from a fire point except when firing. The same is true in reverse - infantry embarked in vehicles cannot be seen (even in open-topped vehicles). With this in mind it feels as though the FAQ ruling is indeed attempting to stop abilities and wargear which require LoS but are not shooting attacks from happening within transports - i.e. get out and play.

With the way the FAQ ruling has been phrased as well, it leaves me to believe this is what Games Workshop intended and whilst looking at the relationship between open-topped transports and fire points may seem like they are a special case, within game terms they are essentially an unlimited fire point and this doesn't affect how the units inside are treated in terms of drawing and determining LoS (i.e. it doesn't happen except when shooting). For that reason, I believe the correct playing of this FAQ is indeed that any wargear or ability which requires LoS and isn't a shooting attack cannot be used from inside a vehicle.

Again, these are few and far between and it does NOT stop auras from working - they do not require LoS.


And then we get to the lovely issue of Imperial Guard Infantry Platoons and deployment during Dawn of War.

"Page 96 – Infantry Platoon, second sentence
Change to “Each Infantry Platoon is deployed in place
of a single unit in missions that limit the number units
that can be deployed. In addition when making a
reserve or outflanking roll, roll once for the whole
Infantry Platoon. Any units in reserve that are
embarked upon a non-dedicated transport are instead
rolled for separately.”

This ruling, combined with the wording on combat squads, allows a single unit choice with multiple individual units to count as one choice when deploying in Dawn of War (i.e. Infantry Platoons and Combat Squads). This was contrary to before where a single unit counted as one choice - regardless if it came from the same Force Organisation Chart slot. The issue here however, is whether or not dedicated transports are allowed to be deployed as part of the infantry platoon.

There are two sides - yes they can and no they cannot. Pretty simple. I think the issue here is two-fold. This ruling for Infantry Platoons indicates a whole FOC choice is being allowed to deploy where restrictions are placed on the number of units. If so, this is certainly an isolated incident which unfortuantely isn't an argument against this ruling - see Shadow in the Warp first FAQ failure for Tyranids. Combine this with the last sentences of the FAQ to cover how such units are treated when placed in reserve and you have a strong inclination that Chimeras are indeed allowed to be deployed during Dawn of War type scenarios.

Why? Because the final sentence mentions non-dedicated transports indicating when rolling for reserves, the Chimeras and Infantry Platoon itself come on all at the same time. This follows basic 40k rules as outlined in the BRB so shouldn't be too shocking but the implication is that the Chimeras are part of the Infantry Platoon itself despite being a separate unit which just doesn't fill up a Force Organisation Chart slot.

And this is one of the major arguments against them being deployed in such scenarios - it's a completely separate unit and the BRB gives a physical example (pg 93) where the dedicated transport of a unit counts as a deployed choice itself. However, codex trumps rulebook and whilst there might be a lot of precedence indicating you cannot deploy the Chimeras, the poor wording on the FAQ might indicate you can due to the conjoinment of the two scenarios (i.e. how many Infantry Platoons can deploy in restricted scenarios and how does the choice interact with reserves).

With that in mind I think the FAQ does allow Chimeras to be deployed on the table simply because of poor rules writing. I do not think this was the intention (Games Workshop is not THAT bad at game balance) and would recommend most people not play it this way as I imagine it will be rectified at some point (four years later?). If this was indeed the intention the way it should be played would enable the whole Infantry Platoon (minus bought for Transports) to deploy as a single entity during restricted scenarios but when they go into reserve, the unit as whole is rolled for as one (except for any units not in dedicated transports) and the transports come up with them at this time (as per BRB for embarked units).

Anyway, discuss away. The likely rulings for 3++ con will fall in with what I believe was intended (i.e. open-topped vehicles are like normal vehicles with fire points and Chimeras cannot deploy during Dawn of War) but let the nitpicking over specific words written by people who have a grasp of the English language begin!

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