Welcome to Ruleshammer! This week we’re covering Squencing and Timing Rules. Remember the banner below will take you to the Ruleshammer 9th Edition Compedium, for all the questions I’ve answered for the last few months!
UPDATES PENDING: A GW FAQ has made the example used in this article be resolved differently to suggested by my article. Updates to address that will happen in the future. I still stand by the main reasoning and methodology I covered, but it doesn’t work for that interaction according to GW. No rules were changed though, so there’s no explanation on if it’s game wide or specific.
Scattered throughout the 40k rules are a number of timing clauses. There are instances when rules happen at the same time or in sequence and for reasons known only to Games Workshop how these are resolved is never explained in a single section of the rules. Rather, these are spread out across a few different locations, often using different terms. For this article, we’re going to dive into these, starting with an example I’ve been asked about a few times recently.
Q: How do the Strike and Fade and Reactive Reprisal Stratagems interact?
Let’s look at the Stratagems:
Tau – STRIKE AND FADE
Use this Stratagem at the start of your Shooting phase. Select one T’AU EMPIRE JET PACK unit from your army. You can shoot with that unit and then it can make a Normal Move of up to 6″. That unit cannot shoot again this phase.
If that unit contains 5 or fewer models (excluding DRONE models), this Stratagem costs 1CP; otherwise, it costs 2CP.
Leagues of Votann – REACTIVE REPRISAL
Use this Stratagem in your opponent’s Shooting phase, after an enemy unit that had 1 or more Judgement tokens when it was selected to shoot has resolved its attacks. Select one VOTANN CORE unit from your army that was hit by one or more of that enemy unit’s attacks this phase, and that is not within Engagement Range of any enemy units. That VOTANN CORE unit can immediately shoot as if it were your Shooting phase, but its models can only target that enemy unit when doing so, and only if that enemy unit is an eligible target. After resolving its attacks, that VOTANN CORE unit is then not eligible to shoot in your next Shooting phase. If that VOTANN CORE unit was a unit of HEARTHKYN WARRIORS, this Stratagem costs 1CP; otherwise, it costs 2CP.
Good news! There is an answer to this. Here’s the sequence of events:
- The T’au player uses the Strike and Fade Stratagem and selects a unit for it (which has one or more Judgement tokens)
- The T’au player shoots with the affected unit
- The T’au player resolves their shooting attacks with the affected unit
- The Votann player uses the Reactive Reprisals Stratagem and selects a unit hit by the T’au unit which just finished making its attacks
- The selected Votann unit makes its attacks at the T’au unit
- The T’au unit moves using the second part of the Strike and Fade Stratagem
Read on to find out why this is the order.
The first place that timing rules appear is the sequencing rule, which for the most part lets the current player decide on the order of things.
While playing Warhammer 40,000, you’ll occasionally find that two or more rules are to be resolved at the same time – e.g. ‘at the start of the battle round’ or ‘at the end of the Fight phase’. When this happens during the battle, the player whose turn it is chooses the order. If these things occur before or after the battle, or at the start or end of a battle round, the players roll off and the winner decides in what order the rules are resolved.
However to correctly use this rule we need to figure out if our two rules are actually happening at the same time. This case is a little muddy as both rules have multiple timings.
The Tau Rule has:
- Use this Stratagem at the start of your Shooting phase, after an enemy unit that had 1 or more Judgement tokens when it was selected to shoot has resolved its attacks.
- can shoot with that unit and then…
and the Votann Rule has:
- Use this Stratagem in your opponent’s Shooting phase
- has resolved its attacks. [Detail of which unit you can select]. That VOTANN CORE unit can immediately shoot
Now the first triggers of both rules are different times but they don’t conflict; a Stratagem used at the start of the phase and one selected after a unit is selected to shoot are definitely different times. The Tau stratagem has to be declared first or there’d be nothing for the Votann Stratagem to be used on.
Note: There are some players that argue that the Tau Stratagem skips selecting a unit to Shoot, so the Votann stratagem can’t be used at all, I think this is a very thin argument personally but be aware that some might try this line of reasoning. I just don’t think you can rationally defend shooting with a unit not selected in some form.
However “shoot and then” vs “after resolving its attacks” is the same moment. These effects share a timing, so does the Tau player who’s turn it is get to choose the order? Not in this case and that’s because of the word “immediately”.
Immediately is sort of a “modifier” in 40k rules; it changes a rule’s priority. None of this is very well defined mind, and if both rules have the wording you default back to “the active/current player decides.” The source for Immediately having this impact is in the Glossary:
Immediately: See ‘When’.
Yeah… and then ‘When’ is defined as:
When: If a rule states that it takes place when a certain trigger occurs, unless otherwise specified, that rule takes effect before any others.
Which mostly establishes that any rules preceded by when or immediately occur before any other rules that don’t. A good example of a non-immediate rule is Necron Reanimation Protocols:
NECRON REANIMATION PROTOCOLS
Each time an enemy unit shoots or fights, after it makes its attacks, if any models in this unit were destroyed as a result of those attacks but this unit was not destroyed, this unit’s reanimation protocols are enacted and those destroyed models begin to reassemble.
Each time a unit’s reanimation protocols are enacted, make Reanimation Protocol rolls for that unit by rolling a number of D6 equal to the combined Wounds characteristics of all the reassembling models. Each Reanimation Protocol roll of 5+ is put into a pool. A Reanimation Protocol roll can never be modified by more than -1 or +1.
The fact that this isn’t immediately after the attacks have been resolved lets any of the shooting unit’s rules which happen after attacks be used before applying Reanimation Protocols, such as perhaps using an Armorium Cherub:
Once per battle, in your Shooting phase, after this unit has shot, one model in this unit can immediately shoot with one of its ranged weapons again. If this unit has two armorium cherubs, it can use this ability twice per battle, but only once per turn.
As these extra attacks are “immediately” done they would be resolved before Reanimation Protocols. Something that probably seems totally normal but is actually established by the timing terminology used.
So that’s how I got to the order I suggested before – because the Votann stratagem says their shooting happens immediately it is resolved before the Tau unit can use the movement part of their stratagem.
I wish I could say that “after” had this same level of solid definition in 40k; for the most part it hasn’t been necessary. Just be assured that when rules say “after” almost every player and rule will play it as meaning “following this thing sequentially”. So for instance “after a unit has shot” type rules or abilities have to be used just after that unit has shot, not several minutes or hours later when it’s still technically a time that is “after that unit has shot”. If you’ve moved on to a new thing, the moment for an “after [this]” rule has passed.
For other rules like this I’d recommend my articles on Accessibility and Consensus in 40k.
“Never” is similarly not defined. While not a timing term it does prevent things from happening, often after they have done other things. Such as how Disembarking Units can never count as stationary:
Units that disembark can then act normally (move, shoot, charge, fight, etc.) in the remainder of the turn, but its models count as having moved that turn, even if they are not moved further (i.e. they never count as having Remained Stationary).
Never means never. No rule can override never without specifically saying it does. For instance:
This unit always counts as remaining stationary.
Does not work for units that have just disembarked or that arrived that turn as reinforcements, because those rules say they never can. However a rule that said.
This unit always count as remaining stationary, even if it disembarked this turn.
Would be a unit that could count as stationary if it disembarked, but not if it arrived from Reinforcements. Though I’m not sure any rule has put that theory to the test just yet. I wish I could point to a glossary entry or passage of the 40k rules that firmly establishes this but sadly it’s sort of a manifested thing. The rules don’t quite function if you don’t take “never” as winning over “always”, or less emphatic statements of fact.