Garrisoning terrain features has been a rule since 2nd edition but saw an update in 3rd and can be something that’s just avoided for ease of gaming and I can’t blame anyone for that, it can be confusing and unclear in a few ways. They can however add another depth to gameplay and using them along with any other terrain feature should be at least considered, if not expected. Kharadron Overlords also use the rules for garrisoning to embark on their ships.
Defensible Terrain Features
The newest edition of Age of Sigmar brought with it a bit of an overhaul on terrain rules. A terrain feature that players agree to be so, typically these will look like things like buildings which units could reasonably enter. Defensible terrain can be garrisoned by units and depending how large it is can hold more models. Models with a wounds characteristic of less than 10 wounds can garrison a defensible terrain feature, meaning that a Daemon Prince takes up the same space a single gnoblar does. Normal sized defensible terrain features can hold up to 15 models, large ones hold up to 30, and very large up to 60. Large terrain features are anything that is between 12 and 19 inches at its widest point with very large being defined as anything larger than that.
Units can be set up in garrisons when deployed before the game starts but if they are set up during the game (such as via a Fyreslayer Runesmiter Magmic Tunnelling) then they cannot be set up in a garrison. Any unit can join a garrison that does not have any enemy models within it if all of the models in the unit are within 6” of the defensible terrain.
To leave a garrison, at the end of the movement phase you set up all of the models in the unit leaving within 6” of the terrain feature and more than 3” away from all enemy models. Depending on the size of the terrain feature, if there are enemies within 3” of the defensible terrain then you could effectively use this as a retreat without actually having to retreat, so long as there’s space to get out. You cannot move after leaving a garrison but you can still shoot and charge as normal, creating some potentially interesting interactions.
The benefit of garrisoning a defensible terrain feature is the normal +1 to their save rolls but also gain a -1 to hit (from both ranged and melee weapons) adding some extra protection to the unit.
What’s On the Battlefield?
Once a unit has joined a garrison then as per 17.2.1: “Units that garrison a terrain feature are removed from the battlefield and are assumed to be ‘inside’ the terrain feature.” This is where it starts to get tricky. There is (at the time of writing) no FAQ or anything else in the Core Rules about models that are removed from the table but continue to interact with the table, only models that are removed from play by being slain or running from battleshock. Being told that the unit is “assumed to be ‘inside’ the terrain feature” is not clear. Do the units continue to count towards the number of models on an objective? Do they count as being within places on the table (ie within a territory)? Are these units affected by spells/abilities that affect all units with X range? Some of these questions might seem obvious but it’s not actually spelled out in any way.
Units that join a garrison CAN be targeted by spells/abilities/attacks simply measuring to the terrain feature, they can be attacked in combat and can attack back, cast spells, shoot missile weapons etc while inside of it.
I’m of the opinion though that these units are not “on the battlefield” and cannot be chosen for battle tactics that require a unit “on the battlefield” to be chosen and that a General in a garrison does not generate a Command Point because it is not “on the battlefield”. This is because of the text in the side of the 17.2 rules that reads:
“A model in a garrison can still do anything it could do if it were on the battlefield, apart from moving. For example, it can cast spells, issue commands, and so on. When it does so, measure the range and visibility from the terrain feature.”
Meaning that units here are not on the battlefield but they can still act as if they were. Which is an important distinction.
Now, the players that will actually be more accustomed to all of these rules are running Kharadron Overlords. Transports don’t exist in Age of Sigmar, except for this one army so for ease of rules they have made it so that the army simply garrisons the ships as if they were defensible terrain. One big difference for 3rd edition garrisoning is that you elect to get out of the ships at the end of the movement phase and Kharadron ships stipulate that the ship may not move in a phase in which a unit joins or leaves its garrison. This means to get out you have to have your ship in position from the turn before, get out at the end of the phase, and not move the ship at all that turn as well.
Now, it’s widely believed that what comes in Battletomes will always overrule what’s in the Core Rules and this thought process has been around a long time, and understandably so. In 3rd edition this rule comes next to 1.6 of the Core Rules that Abilities on Warscrolls supersedes the Core Rules. Each of the Flying Transport sections of the Kharadron ships state “models cannot leave or join this model’s garrison if it has made a move or flown high in the same phase (they can join or leave before it does so).” However the eagle-eyed player will notice that the Flying Transport rule comes notably before the Abilities section of the Warscroll, so does not override the Core Rules in any way. I know this is extremely pedantic but this is Ruleshammer.
But why would you want to get out of the ships anyways? For objectives. The Kharadron ships very specifically state in their warscroll that units that have joined their garrison do not count towards the number of models when contesting objectives. Leaving you with a ship full of dwarfs that counts for a whopping 2 models (since the ship has 5+ wounds). To be able to hold objectives you’re going to need to take a walk sometimes, and when you do your movement is going to be severely punished for it.
One of the largest questions though once again is if these units count towards units wholly within an enemy territory, which matters if you’re playing matched play out of the General’s Handbook and want to score Savage Spearhead. As stated above I believe that they do count for this since they’re considered to be there, in the ship, for all purposes except for movement.
So those few questions definitely need clarifying via an FAQ from GW especially in regards to the Kharadron army which extensively uses these rules on floating, moving, platforms. If you’re running an event it might be worth considering marking out some defensible terrain and making it clear in your rules pack how the above questions will be handled in game. If you’re going to an event and this hasn’t been clarified then it’s worth asking beforehand, especially if you’re taking or anticipating Kharadrons.
Happy defending, people.