Games Workshop released an updated 40k FAQ this morning, and if you were wondering what changed well, you aren’t the only one. This FAQ is more notable for what it removes rather than what it adds – in fact, nothing new was added. But in true GW fashion, the removed text has no signifiers or strikethrough; unlike added text, which is printed in magenta or blue text, removed text is just gone, leaving us to puzzle out the changes or use a PDF comparison tool to find them.
The good news is there’s only one change this time. Yes, it’s a big one.
Removed: The 2″ Engagement Range rule for Ruins area terrain
‘While a model is within 1″ of an Area Terrain feature with this trait (e.g. Ruins) and the shortest line between it and an enemy model crosses over or through this terrain feature, then while those models are within 2″ horizontally and 5″ vertically of each other, they are within Engagement Range of each other.’
Good riddance. This was a rule that seemingly no one liked and most events went out of their way to ignore it, rule around it, or make changes to it to make it workable. Let’s do a quick walkthrough of what this rule was likely intended to do, how it will change things, and what you need to know about the new (old) state of affairs.
Fighting Through Walls
Something that’s relatively well known to competitive players but less intuitive to newer players is that units of all sizes can fight “through” walls. This is possible if the width of the wall is less than 1″ and it’s possible for models to get into Engagement Range (1″ distance) with models on the other side of the wall. If you think your unit is safe inside those ruins behind a wall well guess again – put your models too close and that unit of Vanguard Veterans/Incubi/Knight can just charge right up to the wall and fight them through it!
Preventing Fighting Through Walls
Naturally you’d then ask “OK so what if I put my models further back to prevent that?” and that’s exactly the solution here – to a point. If you put your models more than 1″ away from the walls of a particular ruin, you can prevent opponents from just charging up to the wall and fighting through it. This is also not really intuitive, but as we’ll see it’s better than the alternative.
For larger units that can’t move through walls such as Knights, this was basically a way to keep them away, as the unit can’t move through the wall via the Breachable keyword (more on that below), and by being 1.1″ inside a ruin wall there’s no way they can successfully charge the units on the other side unless there’s a way to go around the wall and do so – which may not be possible if your event has “magic box” style terrain where the ruin doesn’t have any “open” sides to provide access. The proposed solution in the old FAQ was to create a 2″ Engagement Range in ruins, making it much more difficult for units to hide an entire unit back from the wall without giving up valuable positioning.
Unfortunately this was awful because it created a ton of unfortunate knock-on effects, such as letting units arriving from reserves more than 9″ away suddenly be able to charge a unit in ruins with only an 8″ charge to end up in Engagement Range, which would further drop to 7″ in armies like Blood Angels. It also meant you could drop out of combat in consolidation by leaving a ruin in some cases.
With this reversion we’re back to the old way of doing things, which isn’t super intuitive but is by far the preferable outcome. Before we wrap up let’s touch briefly on how to use this rule to your advantage.
The Breachable Keyword
Alright, so the trick is to make it so your opponent can’t fight you through the wall by being more than 1″ back. But that only works if the unit charging you can’t just move through the wall to wind up within 1″ of your unit. Because ruins have the Breachable keyword, this means that INFANTRY, BEASTS, and SWARMS can just walk right through that wall and punch your poor, defenseless(?) unit in the face.
The solution then is to not leave them any space to do so. And the way you do that is by making sure that the distance between your models’ bases and the other side of the wall is just over 1″, such that a 25mm or larger base cannot fit between the wall and your units. This will prevent a unit from being in Engagement Range while touching the other side of the wall, but unable to physically fit between your models and the wall. The thicker the wall is, the easier this is, and the larger the enemy’s base. So this is super easy if your opponent is trying to bring in Terminators on 40mm bases, and much more difficult if your opponent has itty bitty Harlequins on 25mm bases, where if the wall is thin enough you might not be able to screen them out!
As always, one big key when doing this is to declare your intent to your opponent. Let them know when you’re moving the unit into the terrain feature that you are intentionally setting them up some distance in to prevent charges through the walls. This will prevent ambiguity and help avoid contentious situations – just remember that you have to both make an effort to place the models correctly and be sure to subtract the additional distance to leave the ruin when you move your models out of it!
That wraps up our look at the changes. If you’d like to read more, check out our Ruleshammer article on the subject. And if you have any questions or feedback, drop us a note in the comments below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.