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.

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