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Monday, July 2, 2012

Back-to-Basics: Model Placement and Removing Models (from shooting)

One of the big changes for 6th edition is how models are removed, both in combat and shooting and how wounds are assigned to such. The inclusion of Look Out Sir! saves has also changed this. This was probably implemented to help the old system of wound allocation - which could take an annoying amount of time for individuals not intamately familiar with it to assign different S/AP wounds to different models within a unit, made units more survivable in many cases and made many multiple wound, multiple wargear models simply a pain to combat (Paladins, Nob Bikers, etc.).

So let's look at the rules first and complex situations which aren't really covered well by examples in the rules. After each rule we'll look at the tactical application of such in the real-40k setting. We'll cover combat and Look Out Sir! situations in a later post.

Basic Allocation

pg15 - "...allocate an unsaved Wound to the enemy model closest to the firing unit. [] Continue allocating unsaved wounds to the closest model until there are no wounds left, or the whole unit has been removed..."

So pretty simple - you shoot a unit and models which are closest are removed. A further amendment indicates what happens when there are multiple models equidistant from the firing unit (or when there is no firing unit) - because randomising across a unit of 10-30 models isn't going to be easy is it? I'd use my common sense here and look at where the damage is coming from and attempt to apply this to the 6th edition rules quoted above. Either way, this premise is what all model removal follows - closest to closest. Remember that.

So, this is the basic premise for pretty much all model movement (yes, movement) in the future. Things at the 'front' die. In the basic case of two units firing at each other from straight across, this is pretty simple.

Here the noise Marines and Fire Warriors are directly across from each other with all the special guys being in the backline (Shas'ui, Champion & meltagunner). Say if each unit takes four unsaved wounds, only their regular models would die. Since the two models on the edges of each first line are equidistant from each other, if only one unsaved wound was applied, each squad would randomise which member it would go on.

Pretty basic - squads stand apart from each other and shoot. In theory this allows you to keep your heavy weapons and squad leaders alive for as long as you want - you put them at the back. Special weapons can work this way as well but shorter ranges on them often limits how this is applied (i.e. meltaguns really want to get within 6" of the enemy tank and sometimes only one model can do so, this leaves them out to die quickly). This is a very basic understanding of how it works. Let's extend this...

Parking at the back isn't so safe now is it? This basic picture hopefully emphasises everything that should be going on when you're moving units - attempting to get at your enemy's special models (essentially snipe them which from this point on, this term will refer to [precision strikes will be called just that, precision strikes]) and kill them with the first shot. On the flip side, every movement of your own is going to look at protecting your special models. Like...

The Shas'ui essentially has 3-4 Fire Warriors protecting him from every angle - he is therefore more likely to get sniped out in a general firefight (i.e. the way the squads are setup now) but less likely to be sniped by a flanking squad. Essentially - as armies or units get closer together, rearranging models to ensure special models have that extra buffer from being the frontline is going to be paramount to ensuring single non-precision strike shots don't snipe them out. If armies are far away however, having those models at the back isn't a bad thing. This is where mobility comes into play as well - immobile army? Prepare for the days where the special guys lived until the end again.

Remember as well though, such defensive formations make units very vulnerable to blasts and when you spread out your models, you make yourself more vulernable to tactics like this...

A pretty pink tank joins the scene and...

tank shocks for some model displacement. We follow-up with moving the shooting unit in the wake of the vehicle and get...

The special model is now the 2nd-closest to the Chaos Marines and thus 2nd most likely to die. By using the tank to push models out of the way, we've re-positioned our opponent so we can snipe more effectively and pick out those important models from enemy squads. Clumping up does prevent this somewhat though as it becomes harder to shift models to the point where you can still see the enemy unit and ensure there are less models in the closest to closest vicinity.

Some key things to remember here though is tank shocks can be measured perfectly with pre-measuring. There is no reason to get them wrong and don't forget your tank shock rules! Only models under the tank are moved and you could potentially force a unit to fallback - which could leave your shooting unit high and dry, particularly since all units can rally at any time now (with varrying degrees of success).

Now, time for when things start getting 'interesting.'

Mixed Saves 

Mixed saves is the exact same as normal Saves but you are essentially told to roll one die at a time - with some decent thinking though you can roll more than one and in pg16 there's a box (Fast Dice) which helps explain this. The key bit here is wounds are allocated to the closest model until it becomes an unsaved wound. With everyone having the same armor type, this is pretty easy as you just roll them all at once and remove the X closest models. When you throw in a different armor save value though, you need to ensure each armor save is taken appropriately. You can still take mass saving throws but only where it's appropriate. Consider the different armor save values to be a roadblock, and you keep rolling saves for the block until it's gone, then you continue on as before.

This means you could have an improved save model taking hits at the front of your squad and reducing the overall number of wounds being taken. For example...

The Wolfguard unit has four 3+ armor saves and two 2+ armor saves with one of them being at the front against the Fire Warriors. The Fire Warriors deal eight wounds but we can't divy them out just yet because there are different armor save values. Because the closest model has a different armor value and then there are several more models before we get to another armor save of the same value, we need to roll the dice 1 by 1 on the Wolf Guard. This could mean he could take one wound and die or take all eight wounds and not die. If the second Wolf Guard Terminator was directly behind him (see picture below), you would roll such dice 2 by 2 and then 1 by 1 until both were dead or the wounds ran out.

If he does die then we have three more models with the same armor save before we get to someone different. We therefore roll three armor saves for them and keep rolling extra dice until all wounds are exhausted or those models die. Let's give two examples:

Example 1:

Eight wounds are caused, the Wolf Guard terminator is the closest so takes each of the eight wounds 1 by 1 and doesn't fail any and thus no damage is inflicted.

Example 2: 

Eight wounds are cased, the Wolf Guard Terminator is the closest so takes each of the eight wounds 1 by 1 but fails the first. This leaves seven wounds remaining and there are three Wolf Guard left before we get to a different armor save. They take armor saves in batches of three until all wounds are exhausted or the models all die. The first three of the remaining seven wounds kills one of the three. This leaves two models left and four wounds left. They now take two armor saves as they are still the closest and end up dying leaving two wounds left and the remaining Terminator and Wolf Guard. We go back the beginning of the example where we now have to roll each wound on the Terminator one by one due to different armors.

Aka tedious. This may seem broken for such units with access to improved saves like this (Loganwing anyone?) but remember, the same rules apply in relation to model placement and movement. Outflank around that first guy sucking up wounds, or blast him with some AP2 firepower first.

As we can see here, the Fire Warriors have outflanked and thus are sniping the 3+ save models and leaving the Terminators left until the end.

Mixed Wound Values

Which brings us to the next point about different weapons causing different wound values. A wound from a S4 AP5 bolters is much different from a S7 AP2 plasma - one allows saves for a lot of models, the other only allows invulnerables. There is a simple solution here which actually works better than the old wound allocation rules since the shooter effectively gets to allocate them. Rule quote on pg 15, box 'Mixed Wounds' -

"...each of these groups is resolved separately using the relevant method described above [simple or mixed saves]. You as the shooting player, get to choose the order in which these groups are resolved. [] Once one group of wounds has been resolved, simply move onto the next until the wound pool is empty."

This means each group of wounds has to be resolved at the same time - i.e. all plasma, then all bolters; so no mixing and matching - i.e. plasma, bolters, plasma. It also means the shooter gets to choose when each of these wound types are being allocated so one can ensure maximum damage is caused. For example...

Three plasma + missile suits shoot at the same Wolf Guard squad before and score three plasma wounds and three missile wounds. The plasma breaks the Wolf Guard Terminator's armor but the missiles do not, the Tau player therefore elects to use his plasma wounds first and the initial Wolf Guard Terminator will take them each 1 by 1 until they are all gone or he dies. If any are left after he dies the normal Wolf Guard catch those wounds (and die without cover) until they are all used. Then the missile wounds are applied to the remaining squad members just as we described before under mixed armor.

Getting annoyingly tedious when we add in all the extra stuff isn't it? In theory it should be a bit faster when all these little extras (Sv values, S/AP values, W values, etc.) are added in compared to before as there's less thinking involved (really just when to apply the different S/AP value sets). It will certainly be faster when just removing closest to closest models when there is no allocation going on. We just have to get used to the rules!


There are a lot more rules which we haven't talked about yet. Focus fire and the interaction with cover, Look Out Sir! rolls, multiple Wound models and of course, close combat. We'll look at them next but for now, digest what we've just discussed. If you've been confused by the rules, hopefully this clarifies some of the premises for you. Otherwise, the basic applications of moving models and where they are placed in units should be observed. Take time arranging models in non-game scenarios and then look at them from an opponent's point of view - how would they look to snipe model X? How can I make it so that is more difficult? How would I break down this formation? In the end, certain models are going to be sniped - it just depends how much effort you make your opponent expend to do so. If it's too much, the smart choice for them is to not bother and thus you've essentially protected such models. Otherwise they'll expend too much effort and you'll be in a more advantageous position overall.

Either way, get to work on model placement and how you can take advantage of your opponent's! It's the name of the game now.

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