Monday, 28 April 2014

Riptides and Independant Characters

I don't need to tell you that Riptides are amazing do I?

They are strong, tough, and mobile... They are reasonably cheap... They carry some amazing weaponry... You can equip them with excellent Support Systems (and some decent Signature Systems if you're a Farsight Commander)... They can even be threatening in Assault (in the right circumstances).

What some people don't realise is that it is also possible to bundle them together with certain Independent Characters in order to make them seem truly broken!

The problem is, some people attempt to argue that the Riptide cannot be joined by an Independent Character because it's a Monstrous Creature.  Others argue that you can't join it unless the Riptide took it's drones.

These arguments are all fairly ridiculous if you look at the underlying rules clearly. So let's take a look at the definition in the Basic Rule Book on p39:

Independent Characters can join other units. They cannot, however, join vehicle squadrons (see page 77) or units that always consist of a single model (such as most vehicles and Monstrous Creatures). They can join other Independent Characters, though, to form a powerful multi-character unit!

The key point here is (paraphrasing) "They cannot join units that always consist of a single model".   Try not to be distracted by the inclusion of "such as most vehicles and Monstrous Creatures"  as this is really quite irrelevant.  The writer is trying to give a broad example (using the word "most") of what falls into the category, but it gives us enough wiggle room to provide specific examples that do NOT fall under this banner.

Page 33 of Codex:Tau Empire provides additional information to set this whole matter straight:

Drones taken as upgrades for a unit act as additional squad members in all regards

So given that, there is enough information here to draw a definitive conclusion:  

A Riptide is a UNIT that potentially CAN consist of multiple MODELS (in this case, Shielded Missile Drones, who are treated as Squad members in all regards), therefore it CAN be joined by an Independent Character, whether or not actual drones have been purchased.

This all seems really straightforward to me.  So grab your buff Commander, Farsight or Shadowsun and feel free to join them to your Riptide (with or without SMDs).

Friday, 14 March 2014

Overwatch and Line of sight

I have a real issue with Overwatch.... This is from 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.

As if it wasn't hard enough to kill a few charging marines with the standard Pulse Rifle, they actually have to be in Line of Sight when I fire my guns?

So hang on a second.... Those Space Wolves currently huddled behind that building out of sight.... These guys are going to come tearing around that corner and start charging straight at me!  Can't we assume that if I can't see them now, I'm sure as hell going to be able to see them when they are an inch or two away from me, Chainswords at the ready!

And if a damned Template weapon gets D3 automatic hits (p52 of the Basic Rule Book) and the charging models don't have to be under the Template, or even be physically visible.... Then I think it's a bit crappy to make standard weapons have Line of Sight to the charging enemy!

One of the most badly thought out rules in the book.

NOTE:  One thing I'd not considered until today is that you can't charge a unit that you cannot see!  Basic Rule Book page 20 to the rescue!  This stops stupid assault guys hiding behind a hill or a building and then popping out to assault without risking Overwatch.  Awesome!

Ordnance is rubbish on a Riptide

I've been playing some 500 point games at work on a lunchtime and today I managed to squeeze a Riptide into the list (well... it was a few points over but my opponent was kind enough to let it slide!)

The reason I brought out the big guy was primarily to act as a fire-magnet for my opponents Vindicator.  

I hate the Vindicator.  There have been so many occasions where the release of S10 AP2 Large Blasts has resulted in the immediate demise of a huge number of my little blue men.  It's especially a problem because in our lunchtime battles, our board is probably only 3 feet square.  The Vindicator threat range is HUGE in this environment!

So the plan is that he shoots a pie plate at my Riptide and it takes a wound (or maybe not because of the invuln).  I move closer and shoot with my Nova-charged Ion Cannon, penetrate the Vindicator and laugh.  If it's still alive, shoot it some more with my Fusion Gun.

There are several issues with this plan.  First of all, Nova-charge has a 33% chance of failure (and causing a wound), then there is a 16% chance of getting Hot, then there is the Scatter issue with 66% to head off-target (although if it does scatter it might still hit) and finally we need to roll to penetrate (that's a 33% chance with a re-roll) and then see if it explodes (33% again).

Not looking very likely, but pretty funny if it does.  I probably have a much better chance of it assploding if I hit it at half range with the Fusion Gun.  

BS3 means 50% chance to hit, with a re-roll.  There is then a 72% chance of hitting enough with 2D6 to penetrate the front armour.  With AP1 it's probably going to be annihilated 66% of the time because of the +2 to the damage table roll.

There is another issue with this though.  An important one:

If you shoot the Nova-charged Ion Cannon, because it is Ordnance, you cannot shoot the Fusion Gun as well.

The basic rule book (p51) clearly defines: 

"If a non-vehicle model fires an Ordnance weapon, then the massive recoil from the Ordnance weapon means the model cannot fire other weapons that phase."

So even though a Multi-tracker (or the Monstrous Creature rule) would allow multiple weapons to be fired (MCs rule defines 2 weapons can be fired, and a MT defines an additional weapon), it would seem than the Ordnance rule would forbid this.

There is an argument to say that the Multi-tracker rule overrides the Ordnance issue (Basic Rule Book p7):

"On rare occasions, a conflict will arise between a rule in this rulebook, and one printed in a codex.  When this occurs, the rule printed in the codex always takes precedence

But I doubt you can really, truly, get away with that and still keep a clear conscience.  I like to make my opponent suffer... But I don't like to be underhanded about it.

So I'm thinking that in future, I'm much better off keeping the Nova-charge for useful items like an improved Invuln save, or Ripple-firing the Fusion Gun.  And if the Vindicator survives that, I can always Assault it and Smash it's back doors in (if you'll excuse the phrase).

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Forgeworld and Farsight

Are you allowed to take Forgeworld selections in a Farsight Enclaves list?

This is a difficult one... And for the most part it's probably a bit contentious.

Our first problem is the wording from the Farsight Enclaves supplement:

A Farsight Enclaves army is chosen using the army list presented in Codex: Tau Empire.

This very specifically limits our choices to entries from the army list presented in the Codex.

No problem... Escalation has just come out, surely that makes reference to the Farsight Enclave and will let us run with Tiger Sharks?  Errr... No.

A Tiger Shark may only be chosen if your primary detachment is from Codex : Tau Empire.

No problem... Forgeworld released some errata that expanded upon the Escalation list.  Errr... There is no mention of poor old Farsight:

The following vehicles may be chosen as Lords of War if your primary detachment is from Codex: Tau Empire.

No problem... Forgeworld released the R'varna variant, surely that will include the Farsight Enclaves?  Errr... No!

An XV107 R'varna battlesuit is a Heavy Support choice in a Codex: Tau Empire army.

The wording of that doesn't change in the Tau Forgeworld Taros book either!

So if that isn't anything but a good kick in the genitals?  All of those lovely Super Heavies, Lords of War and Forgeworld goodies are all restricted in one way or another, to a vanilla Codex: Tau Empire army or Primary Detachment.

To end on a positive note, according to Faeit 212 and several other sources, Forgeworld are aware of the issue and (un)officially would allow you to take some of their models in a Farsight army (just not any of the good ones!!)

Thank you for your email. We're currently working on a FAQ update concerning which units can and can't be used with Codex supplements. In respect to the Farsight supplement currently -

You can take:
Alternate Hammerhead turrets
Goaded Great Knarlocs
Mounted Great Knarloc Herd
Kroot Knarloc Rider Herd
Heavy gun Drones
Drone Sentry turret
Sensor tower Grid
Orca Drop ship

You can not take:
Any Battlesuit including the R'varna
Tigershark AX-1-0
Remora drone fighter


Negating Nova Reactor Damage

Every Tau Commander loves the Nova Reactor on the Riptide and the R'Varna suits.

And what's not to love about allowing your Elite battlesuit to perform some truly amazing abilities?

The unfortunate downside of the Nova Reactor is of course that it will almost always end up blowing it's own brains out!

To recap the rules for the Nova Reactor:

You must declare if the pilot is going to attempt to use the reactor at the start of each of his Movement phases.

If he chooses to do so, roll a D6. On the roll of a 1 or a 2, something has gone wrong - the Riptide Shas'vre (or R'varna) suffers a single Wound with no saves of any kind allowed and the attempt fails. On any other roll, the attempt is successful, and you can choose one of the abilities listed for the Riptide Shas'vre (or R'varna) to have (until the start of its next Movement phase).

The most obvious manner of negating the possibility of causing a wound to itself is by using the Farsight Enclave Signature System: Earth Caste Pilot Array.

Models with battlesuits only. The model rerolls all rolls of 1 To Hit in the Shooting phase, and may re-roll the dice when using a Nova Reactor. However, their Weapon Skill is 1.

That's pretty simple.  You get to re-roll a failed attempt to utilize the Reactor.  It might still blow up, but at least you're reducing those odds considerably.  The great thing about this particular Signature System is that you can run two of them!  As long as you include Commander Farsight as your Warlord in a Farsight Enclaves army, you can choose an Independent Character called Honour Shas'vre O'vesa.  This 305 point badass pilots a Riptide which includes an Ion Cannon, Twin-linked Fusion Gun, 2 Shielded Missile Drones, an Early Warning Override, a Stimulant Injector and the Earth Caste Pilot Array.  And the best thing?  Look at this excerpt from the Codex Supplement:

They must be equipped exactly as described; the Signature Systems rule above does not apply to them.

The Signature Systems rule doesn't apply to O'vesa, so you can take the Earth Caste Pilot Array on a second Riptide!!  I personally recommend running a Heavy Burst Cannon on this other battlesuit, which will allow you to re-roll those pesky Get's Hot rolls when you Nova-charge your weapon for 12 tasty Rending shots!

But what if you're not running a Farsight list?

Well.... O'vesa has already given us a clue to a potential solution.... The Stimulant Injector.  This piece of kits gives a model the Feel No Pain special rule, which we find the details of here (Basic Rule Book p35):

When a model with this special rule suffers an unsaved Wound, it can make a special Feel No Pain rol1 to avoid being wounded (this is not a saving throw). Roll a D6 each time an unsaved Wound is suffered. On a 4 or less, you must take the Wound as normal. On a 5+, the unsaved Wound is discounted - treat it as having been saved.

Where people might argue is because the rules of the Nova Reactor state that a failed roll inflicts a Wound with no saves of any kind.  However, as you can see here, the Injector allows for a FNP roll because the rule states clearly that this is not a saving throw.

As luck would have it, the rules for the R'varna allow you to equip the Stimulant Injector too (one of only two items that it can take).

So there you go, although expensive at 35 points, the Stimulant Injector is very useful at giving you a way to negate wounds from the Nova Reactor (as well as from more conventional damage).  And if you're running a Farsight list, don't leave home without packing at least one Earth Caste Pilot Array.

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Charge and SMASH!

Smash (p42 of the Basic Rule Book) is such an interesting special rule.  Check this out:

All of the close combat attacks, except Hammer of Wrath Attacks of a model with this special rule are resolved at AP2 (unless it's attacking with an AP1 weapon).

Isn't that great?  All Riptide close combat attacks are resolved at AP2!  This is definitely worth remembering, but the most interesting things about Smash is the next bit of the rule:

Additionally, when it makes its close combat attacks, it can choose to instead make a Smash Attack. If it does so, roll To Hit as normal, but halve its Attacks characteristic. A Smash Attack also doubles the model's Strength (to a maximum of l0) for the purposes of that Attack. Furthermore, a model making a Smash Attack can re-roll its armour penetration rolls, but must abide by the second result.

The great part of this rule is the definition of how many attacks it gets.  Because when we halve a characteristic we round up, the Riptide gets two Smash attacks (3 attacks divided by 2 rounds up to 2).

But what if the Riptide charges into combat?  This is where stuff gets interesting!  We determine the bonus attacks from a Charge using the rules on p24 of the Basic Rule Book:

Each engaged model makes a number of Attacks (A) as indicated on its characteristics profile, plus the following bonus Attacks:

  • + 1 Charge Bonus: Engaged models that charged this turn get + 1 Attack this turn. 
So if a Riptide charges and chooses to Smash, does it get 2 Smash attacks (3 Attacks + 1 Attack, divided by 2 equals 4) or does it get 3 Smash attacks (3 attacks divided by 2 rounds up to 2, +1 additional Attack for the charge)?

Enter the FAQ to the rescue (p6 in the September 2013 Edition):

Q: The rulebook says that you halve your Attacks characteristic if you perform a Smash attack. However, if a Monstrous Creature has an uneven number of Attacks, (3 for example), but has charged that turn, does it receive the bonus Attack for charging before or after halving its Attacks? (p42)

A: You halve the model’s Attacks characteristic first, then apply any additional modifiers. In the example above, the model would halve its Attacks first (rounding up to 2), then receive a bonus Attack for charging.

Games Workshop actually produced a useful piece of information in a FAQ!  And what's more, it benefits the Riptide immensely, especially if it charges something that it can actually hit!  Tanks are my favorite target here as they are usually WS0 or WS1. Charging a Walker (like a Dreadnought) is possible too, but fraught with statistical danger if the Walker in question has a WS higher than 3!

So there you have it.... Enjoy Hulking up and Smashing your opponent with your Riptide.

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.