Tuesday, July 16, 2013

6th Edition 40K - You're Doing It Wrong! (maybe) - Look Out, Sir & Wound Allocation

Here's something that I think there's a lot of confusion about. Part of the problem is that the rules are fairly complicated in the first place. There's also some crucial changes made by the FAQs which, as ever, people simply don't read. Finally, most people have made assumptions (myself included) and are doing it wrong every time until someone tells them different.

I wanted to put together all the wound allocation stuff I could find to try and clear up the issue. This all stemmed from one of the games last Saturday where our opponents were carrying out Look Out, Sir rolls in a different way to what we were used to. Rather than argue too much we let them carry on but I was determined to figure out what the actual rules were when I got home.

Please bear in mind that even though this took a lot of work to piece together, I'm still up for hearing other people's views on it. There are inevitably going to be some parts that are interpretation but sadly that's the way it is with 40K most of the time. I'm sure someone else has done a similar guide to it but this was mostly a learning process for myself as much as anything else.

Forgive me if any of this is patronising but I want to get the basics sorted before we get too technical. As ever with one of my articles, it's going to get pretty wordy in order to be thorough so you might want to grab a cuppa. I apologise for the lack of (much needed) diagrams but it's getting late and I lack the motivation.

Wound Allocation (p.15)
Before I get on to talking about Look Out, Sir itself. I want to cover some of the wound allocation basics that I think people (again myself included) are getting wrong. Ask most people what the big change was with 6th edition and they'd say that it's closest model now which is only the tip of the iceberg!

On the face of it there's nothing to it. Assuming your unit has all of the same saves and the shots are all the same AP value you just grab a bunch of dice, roll the saves and remove a number of models equal to the number of failed saves. Obviously, you're taking multiple wound models into account here so if you fail 5 wounds and the closest model has 3 then he'll be removed and two other single wound models.

Mixed Saves (p.15)
Where the complication comes is where a unit has different saves available to it. For example, a unit of guardsmen being shot by bolters might have half their number in cover and the other half in the open. Assuming you've haven't used Focus Fire (which, by the way, you have to declare BEFORE rolling to hit), you'd need to figure out who was closest and what save they had. For example, if the 4 closest guardsmen are in the open then they're removed before you get to make any cover saves for the next closest.

Crucially, you can keep taking cover saves on that model until he dies. If the next closest model doesn't have a cover save then you keep removing them until you get to the next one in cover or else you run out of wounds to apply.

It's in this way that you can use a model as a tank, something I championed a while ago, which is widely used now. This usually means a 2+ save model leading a unit with 3+ or worse armour. You can keep making 2+ saves on that model all day long provided he's the closest and he doesn't fail any.

Mixed Wounds (p.16)
This whole thing is further complicated by shots with different strengths, AP values or special rules. A great example of this is the new wave serpent which usually has an AP6 scatter laser, AP5 cannon and AP- serpent shield (which has Ignores Cover). Deciding the order you want these wounds to be applied can be a real game changer.

For example, that wave serpent is firing at those poor guardsmen again and wounds will all of its shots. They're mostly in the cover of a ruin but let's say the front 3 models aren't in cover. Clearly you want to use the AP5 cannon shots first as that'll be 3 dead guardsmen. Then you might want to use either the serpent shield shots or the scatter laser shots. The serpent shield will only allow a 5+ armour save whilst the scatter laser allows the full 4+ cover save. If there are some models further back which aren't in cover (unlikely I know) you'll want to use the shield first so that you're making the most of Ignores Cover.

Obviously it gets a bit complicated but you can see how effective use of this rule can be rather than just letting your opponent roll a pile of saves. Bear in mind S8 shots should try to get multi-wound characters so using the bolter fire from a squad to kill the models in front is a good idea. There are a lot of things to think about and a lot of depth to seemingly simple rules.

Random Allocation
This is getting more common with things like vector strike but it isn't a particularly tricky concept. It is, however, an excellent way of bypassing your opponent's plans to tank with a front model so keep an eye out for weapons in your codex that use random allocation.

It's also pretty useful when you can't decide which model is closer. Sometimes it's near impossible to squeeze your tape measure in to figure it out and neither side will want to concede. Most of the time you're better just rolling for it and being at the whim of the dice gods.

Combat Wound Allocation (p.25)
Obviously in combat this process is done at each discrete initiative step. They're still applied to the closest model of course but that's a slightly different bracket now.

A key thing to remember is that a wound must be allocated to a model which is in base contact with the specific attacking model, not just any model that is in base contact with an enemy model.

Contrary to what some people think you can keep applying wounds and making saves on a model before moving onto the next. They don't have to be split up evenly across all models in base contact with an attacking model or models. It's always the controlling player's choice so don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

Also, against what some believe, even models that aren't engaged can be killed. However, it's worth bearing in mind that if they're so far away that they can't make it into the combat when they eventually pile in, they don't actually get to fight and potentially the combat ends. This is, of course, unlikely but it has happened to me once at a tournament.

Look Out, Sir (LOS) (p.16, 26, 39, FAQ)
Crucially, the rules for wound allocation state that you assign wounds to a model and take saves, one at a time. Obviously, this is usually done in handfuls of dice but for LOS it's an important distinction.

First and foremost, to make an LOS attempt there must be models within 6" for both the shooting and assault scenarios. The FAQs have now made it so the closest model to the character is the first to be killed. Again this is something I still see people getting wrong. Before I go any further we should also remember that normal characters need to roll 4+ and independent characters need to roll 2+ to pass an LOS attempt. Don't forget as well that the FAQ changed the wording to remove "unsaved wound" from the LOS description. This is important, as I hope will become clear.

Right, now onto the whole point of this article (finally!). The rules state that for each wound allocated you can attempt to make a LOS "save". Let's assume you're using your two-wound character to tank with a 2+ save at the front of a unit of 3+ save models. You're hit by a heldrake (again not that unusual) who manages to cause 5 wounds. Now, my current way of doing this would be to say, "I'll take two LOS rolls first and then make saves on the character". This is partly done for speed and partly to try and protect your character. You're unlikely to fail 2 out of 3 2+ saves (unless you're me) so you're keeping him relatively safe.

However, if we read the rules explicitly we can actually consider each wound one at a time. So I manage to make three 2+ saves and then fail the fourth. At this point I decide it isn't worth the risk so I declare an LOS roll and pass the wound off to an unsuspecting model near my character. There's nothing to say you actually have to declare how many LOS rolls you'll make straight away. That is, of course, unless I've missed something somewhere.

This is how our opponents were playing it in the last game on Saturday. Granted they did do some other things wrong that we shouldn't have allowed but on this score it seems they were totally right. It may take a bit more time to do and ends up a bit confusing but it's a good way to make the most of your "tank".

The difficulty comes in applying this if your character is the closest model but has the same save as the rest of the unit. In that case you could argue that you'd need to decide how many to LOS before making all of the 3+ saves together. Personally I'd say you could still do them one at a time if your character is the closest model but I'm not totally sure of that. Answers on a postcard.

There also seems to be a belief (and I thought this too) that you can only make a number of LOS rolls equal to the number of other models in the unit. The rules don't seem to say that anywhere I can see though. Only one attempt can be made per wound but it says nothing about a model being used by the character to make multiple successful LOS "saves". Obviously if the model dies you have to move onto another but as long as it survives you can keep passing wounds to the same model.

Other Stuff (p. 33, 35, 43, 63, 64, FAQ)
To finish off here's collection of other things that I found in my search (mostly in the FAQ). Firstly, the gun model in an artillery unit cannot be used to make an LOS attempt.

LOS attempts can still be made on precision shots and precision strikes. This includes Focussed Witchfire too as far as I'm aware. Wounds from a challenge may not be LOS'd (obviously) and again, obviously, can't be used to pass off wounds from Gets Hot.

Another useful thing (perhaps) in the FAQ is that you should remember to keep wounds from a blast weapon in a separate pot to other wounds as they can be allocated to models you can't see, i.e. leave them until last so that you might kill models that the unit's other weapons can't.

Feel No Pain rolls can also be made individually before applying any more wounds to a model.

Finally, something that I don't think many people do (because they see it as complicated), is the weapon range thing. If you've already killed all of the enemy models that are in range of the front firing model in your unit then any excess wounds are lost. Worth bearing in mind.

Some of this stuff could make games a lot more complicated but it helps to know what the rules actually say when someone tries something like this against you in a tournament. This process has certainly helped me understand LOS a lot better and I think it'll be more effective now that I know how to use it correctly.

Once again though, if you disagree and can back it up with rule quotes then please comment. As I say, some of this is open to interpretation and I'm always keen to hear other people's views.


  1. Sounds about right. The easiest way to deal with it is to have the shooter roll to hit and wound (that still goes by majority Toughness), and then lay out all the wound dice on the table by Strength and AP value. So if you have six bolter wounds, a plasma wound, and a multimelta wound, you'd have three pools (preferably using three different dice colors).
    Ask the shooter which he wants you to resolve first. After he chooses, pick up all of the dice from that pool. If your "tank" is in the front, start rolling all the dice in that pool one at a time if you plan to use LOS rolls.
    I tend to have a Captain in Artificer Armor as my "tank". If he's in front with five Marines behind him in power armor, and facing the above wound pools, I tend to roll his saves in pairs to save time. Let's say I'm forced to take the bolter shots first. I pick up six dice, and say "I'm rolling these against the Captain, two at a time, til he fails one." I roll the first two bolter saves and pass. I roll the second two and fail one. At this point I have two bolter wound left to save, and only two wounds. I then say "I'm now rolling those against the Captain one at a time." I roll one, pass. I roll the second, pass. I've rolled all the bolter saves on my "tank", and failed one. My opponent then wants me to save the plasma. I pickup the plasma die, and declare it as going against the Captain's invulnerable save. Roll, fail. Captain is at one wound now. The only wound left is the melta. If I tank it, there's a 50/50 chance my Captain dies. So, I declare I'm taking a LOS roll to move the wound off of him. Roll for a 2+, pass. I now resolve the wound on the closest Marine, who happens to be the squad's Sergeant. He dies instantly, as he cannot take an armor save on that AP1 wound. You can't further pass the wound again, despite him being a Character! I've seen that attempted in the past.
    When rolling for a mono-save unit like a Marine Squad with a Sergeant, I simply total up the number of Marines affected before I hit the Sergeant, and roll dice in batches that size. So, if my 10-man Squad takes 20 wounds, and there are seven Marines before the sergeant (six bolters and a flamer) I layout 20 dice, and roll the first set of 7 saves. Fail two, remove two. I have 13 left to save, 5 marines in front. Roll 5 dice, pass all. 8 left to save. Roll five more, fail them all. 3 dice left, no one in front of the sergeant. At this point I can simply roll all the dice and count the failures, then attempt to LOS them away (if I fail all three saves, they all die regardless, so just skip LOS), or I can declare the LOS rolls one at a time, determine the result, and save as appropriate.
    Some folks prefer the latter method, as it's less like premonition (though perfectly legal). If I only had two dice left when I hit the sergeant (and two Marines behind him), some folks feel more comfortable asking me to roll those one at a time. For some reason they feel like knowing how many LOS rolls are needed AFTER unsaved wounds are determined is unsporting.

    All in all, the big thing to remember with LOS rolls is to make sure that you're not saving the same wound twice. Before the FAQ, you'd have folks with a Marine Captain in power armor in front of a unit of terminators take 4 AP3 wounds. they'd roll the Captain's 4+ invulnerable, then attempt to pass any failures back to the terminators and make 2+ armor saves on those.

  2. "A key thing to remember is that a wound must be allocated to a model which is in base contact with the specific attacking model, not just any model that is in base contact with an enemy model."
    As far as I understood, you can allocate the wounds to any model in baseconatct with(or colosest to) a model which made an attack in this initiative step.

    "The difficulty comes in applying this if your character is the closest model but has the same save as the rest of the unit. In that case you could argue that you'd need to decide how many to LOS before making all of the 3+ saves together. Personally I'd say you could still do them one at a time if your character is the closest model but I'm not totally sure of that. Answers on a postcard."
    The FAQ makes no difference between characters with the same save as the uint he's in or a better/worse save.

    1. "Finally, something that I don't think many people do (because they see it as complicated), is the weapon range thing. If you've already killed all of the enemy models that are in range of the front firing model in your unit then any excess wounds are lost. Worth bearing in mind."

      How comes ? The out of range rule on page 16 says the opposite ?
      As long as a model was in range of the enemy when To Hit rolls
      were made, he is considered to be in range for the duration of
      the Shooting attack, even if the removal of casualties means that
      the closest model now lies out of range."

    2. It was in the FAQ. Basically the front model of your unit is the cut off. If he and everyone else are firing 24" range weapons at a unit 20+" away there's a chance that some models at the back of the enemy unit can't be killed.

    3. right m8, we are along the same line, I don't know why but I misunderstood that sentence ... :)

    4. T-Jay, your understanding of the combat allocation is correct (the article is incorrect on this) - close combat follows the standard wound allocation rules, with a special case for when there are many models that are in B2B.

      To avoid having to roll every model individually as the closest man will likely vary for each model (this would take bloody ages!), the rulebook adds in the following rule explicitly for combat:

      "A wound must be allocated to an enemy model in base
      contact with a model attacking at that Initiative step.
      If there is more than one eligible candidate, the player
      controlling the models being attacked chooses which
      model it is allocated to."

      Anon and FTF - the FAQ rule states that you can kill up to the maximum range of the weapons in the squad, so 5 marines with bolters can only kill stuff up to 24" away, but 4 marines with bolters and 1 with a lascannon can inflict wounds up to 48" away (but naturally, those bolters do still need to be in range of SOMEONE, but they could all only be in range of one enemy model in the unit and still kill beyond 24").

      This is why you will see Guard 4 Flamer PCS squads paying two points to give the platoon commander a boltgun - allowing them to flame hordes up to 24" away, rather than the 12" the platoon commander's laspistol gives them.

    5. @James actually the article is correct except I was assuming just a single model was attacking. Obviously if there are several models in base contact attacking at a particular step then more enemy models can have wounds applied to them. I get that for more models in base contact you roll them all together.

      That's a pretty dirty (although seemingly legal) interpretation of the rules. I can't really see it being all that likely to come up though.

    6. Fair enough, the article was ambiguous on that point.

      You're right in that it's not THAT likely to come up. It's something worth remembering mind, and is especially important now you consider things like Eldar with battle focus who dance around right on range limits.

      I run guard, and my 50 point (or now 52 point) units of scoring guardsmen in Vendettas with 4 flamers are one of my favourite units. They won't end up killing units 24" away, but pouncing on a quite bunched blob of guard/orks/tyranids means it's not unreasonable that the wounds start hitting stuff more than 12" away.

  3. How would they wound 24 inches away when the enemy models have to be under a template in order to wound them?

    1. I think he's describing a, somewhat unlikely, scenario where you have a widely spread target unit with some models under the template(s) whilst the rest are out of template range but can still be killed thanks to that particular interpretation of the rules.

    2. @Tef803 - Your understanding is false (and I believe quite a common one). Blasts and templates in 6th are ONLY used to work out the number of models hit (excluding barrage). Beyond that, they follow the same rules as any other shooting attack (wounds allocated closest first).

      Following the rules in the most recent FAQ - you can only kill up to the maximum range of the squad (8" on the flame template, 12" on the PCS' laspistol). Hence the argument for buying the platoon commander a boltgun, as it now means I can kill swarms over 12" away, up to 24" (admittedly 24" kills aren't going to happen, but being able to kill model over 12" away is useful).

    3. I think i misunderstood what you originally meant, I was picturing you trying to use the bolters range to target a unit 24 in Away and somehow say flamers could hit the same unit

  4. Something I don't think you mention explicitly is that the attacker can decide in which order you take the saves, so if you have a few S8 AP2 shots, you can force your opponent to take those on the tank first to try and get rid of it, or you can hold those back till the end to try and thin out a screen of regular dudes and make a character take them. The caveat to this is that you have to use an entire wound pool before moving onto the next.

    Also, I'd always played that if everyone has the same save, you take all the saves, and then work out removing models and LOSs after that. I've also played it that where there are mixed saves/cover, you roll enough dice for the number of wounds at whatever save/cover is closest, remove casualties, then roll again till you've either exhausted the wound pool, or killed off all models in that save/cover combination before moving onto the next grouping. Is this still a correct way of doing things?

    1. PS: great to see all this laid out so clearly and in one place, lets just see how long GW take to FAQ some of it and change the whole process :D

    2. I do mention it mate but it's lost in that wall of text! Looking back at it now I really should've put in some diagrams even just to break things up a bit.

      Working out LOS after does speed things up but some opponents wouldn't be happy to do it this way (even though it's essentially the same) as it isn't strictly rules as written.

      The grouping of saves you've described sounds about right. That's how most people do it to shorten the process. I really need to play a game after writing this to see it in action and figure out if I'm missing anything.

  5. Can LOS be made if the caharcter was the only model in range?

    1. Interesting question. Not sure there's a definitive answer to it though. The rules for LOS only require a model to be within the same unit and within 6" of the character. I can't see why they'd need to be in range.

      Anyone else care to chip in on this?


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