Ruleshammer: Codex Space Marines

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Last Updated: 2021-09-03

Combat Squads and Strategic Reserves

So this clears up so much about these abilities and represents a significant change for Combat Squads on the what was the consensus before. Whilst Deploy Armies did have a lot going for it as when “deployment” was, it never did quite line up with how other abilities were worded that took place in the “declare reserves” step. So what’s changed? Well we now know that deployment is in fact from the that declare reserves step. Here’s the new Rare Rule.

These terms are commonly used in many rules. We wanted to clarify when each of these happens in the mission sequences that appear in mission packs such as Open Hostility, Eternal War etc.

  • At the Start of Deployment: A rule that happens ‘at the start of deployment’, is resolved at the start of the ‘Declare Transports and Reserves’ step of the sequence. Combat Squads (see Codex: Space Marines) is an example of just such a rule.
  • During Deployment: A rule that happens ‘during deployment’ can happen any time between the start of the ‘Declare Transports and Reserves’ step and the end of the ‘Deploy Armies’ step. The rule itself will provide further details as to exactly when it is used, but typically if the rule lets you set a unit up in a location that is not on the battlefield, it happens during the ‘Declare Transports and Reserves’ step, otherwise it happens during the ‘Deploy Armies’ step. Teleport Strike and Concealed Positions (see Codex: Space Marines) are examples of just such rules that are resolved at different times; a rule such as Teleport Strike allows a unit to set up in a location that is not on the battlefield, and so is resolved in the ‘Declare Transports and Reserves’ step; a rule like Concealed Positions triggers ‘when you set this unit up’, which happens in the ‘Deploy Armies’ step.
  • After Deployment: These rules, which also include wordings such as ‘after both sides have deployed’, ‘after both sides have finished deploying’ etc. happen in the ‘Resolve Pre-Battle Abilities’ step. The Lord of Deceit Warlord Trait (see Codex: Space Marines) is an example of just such a rule. After all of these rules have been resolved, the players move onto the ‘Begin the Battle’ step, and the first battle round begins (triggering any rules that are used ‘when the first battle round begins’).

So now we know that Combat Squads happens BEFORE declaring reserves, which changes quite a bit. You can’t put a single unit into reserves using a stratagem such as White Scars Outflank, and then split it into two units afterward. On the other hand, you can decide to split up a unit that has a deepstrike ability and then only use that ability for one of the two new units, giving you a bit more flexibility.

When does Encirclement Happen?

How is the interaction with combat squad a unit going into strategic reserve or deep striking? Is it allowed? What’s the order of operations and how does it work with stratagems like White Scars Encirclement? – Daniel

There are a few things going on here and some definite ambiguity that we’ll talk about in a moment. Let’s start by addressing the Encirclement Stratagem, which dodges all these issues.

The Encirclement Stratagem was FAQ’d a while ago to change the wording of when to use it but not change what it does:

Use this Stratagem during the Declare Reserves and Transports step of your mission. Select one WHITE SCARS unit (excluding ARTILLERY and BUILDINGS) from your army. You can set up that unit in outflank instead of setting it up on the battlefield. If you do, at the end of one of your Movement phases you can set up that unit wholly within 6″ of any battlefield edge and more than 9″ away from any enemy models.

and now post June FAQ we know that Combat Squads happens before this stratagem is used.

Original Answer from 2020-10-22


Blood Ravens Inceptors. Credit – Soggy

Should Plasma Inceptors slow roll their plasma attacks in case they die?

So question. If I understand the rules correct, an inceptor would have to slow roll his plasma shots, since he dies after overcharging and rolling a one. Meaning he wouldn’t be able to shoot his second gun? Or do all the attacks still go through? – ReneG8

Yes he wouldn’t be able to shoot the second gun. At least it seems so to me – though there’s room for debate, unfortunately. This is likely quite a rare occurrence in the rules as most models with several overheating weapons aren’t outright killed by them when they overheat, they usually only inflict a number of mortal wounds.

if any unmodified hit rolls of 1 are made for attacks with this weapon profile, the bearer is destroyed after shooting with this weapon.

There are two ways to go on this:

  1. Models not on the board can’t make attacks. I think this because the “make attacks” steps starts “When a model makes an attack, make one hit roll for that attack by rolling one D6” implying the need for a model. This also gives you a baseline for things like what auras are affecting the model (both positive and negative) would be debatable once the model is removed should the first weapon kill it before the second. It also establishes which stats such as BS to use as it’s “the model” making the attacks, rather than an empty space.
  2. The other way to go though, is that the number of attacks step has already happened and it determines the total to be resolved. We already continue to shoot at units that are no longer visible and whilst this section does not call out the attacker dying mid shooting it’s arguably applicable.

I personally favour the first of them, but I think this situation needs a general FAQ to be 100% resolved. The middle ground is that Inceptors should at the very least be slow rolling per model, in fact despite the above I would still recommend this interpretation but I think that’s generally being done already.


Imperial Fists Primaris Ancient
Imperial Fists Primaris Ancient. Credit: Jack Hunter

Ancient Banner and CORE

Hello! The Astartes Banner changed from INFANTRY to CORE. Does this mean that dreadnoughts and bikes can fight or shoot on death? – Bridges

Yes they can! However remember that “as if it were your Shooting phase” means that the model is still affected by shooting phase rules. If it’s within Engagement Range of an enemy unit it will need to use pistols, or abide by the rules of Big Guns Never Tire to shoot at units within Engagement range.

Can Eradicators Double Shoot with Total Obliteration when they die while in range of an Ancient’s Astartes Banner Aura?

Hello! I have a question about how the Astartes Banner rule interacts with the Eradicators’ Total Obliteration ability. The former states that the slain “model” can shoot as if it were the Shooting phase. The latter can be used each time the “unit” is selected to shoot in the Shooting phase. Does a unit count as being selected to shoot when one of the models in it is? Can Eradicators double-tap when shooting before being removed, and if so, how often is the target to be totally obliterated chosen? Thank you! – Egor (and Chris G who also sent in a similar question).

I agree with your first impressions here. The model is being chosen to shoot, not the unit, so it doesn’t fulfill the trigger of Total Obliteration.

In your Shooting Phase, each time this unit is selected to shoot, if it has not Advanced this turn, it can unleash total obliteration.

I would prefer this to be clarified by an FAQ though, as there’s no real process laid out in the rule (or Rare Rules) for firing a single model from a unit “as if it was the shooting phase”.

However even if a future FAQ did say the unit counted as being chosen to shoot in this case to clear that ambiguity up, there another, subtler reason why this still wouldn’t work though: When firing under an Astartes Banner the ability states that the model is removed after making the attacks the banner enables. With that in mind, even if the model was allowed to use Total Obliteration, it’s no longer on the board to make the second round of attacks (you’d need a model to check Range and Line of Sight from as if it was the Shooting phase). Shooting with Total Obliteration is two separate rounds of shooting as detailed in the Shoot Again Rare rule on page 89 of the Grand Tournament Mission Pack 2020 and the Banner rule removes the model at the conclusion of the first of these. Even if Total Obliteration kicks in to allow a second set of shoots, it’s too late!

I have made reference to abilities allowing you to shoot a weapon twice being covered by Shoot Again Rare Rule in the past here on Ruleshammer, and while I think the Rare Rule covers it some have disagreed. I’ve still not been entirely convinced that they should be treated differently; if the abilities wanted the attacks resolved all at once then why have the model shoot twice rather than doubling the attacks the weapon makes? This is speculation now so I would also hope for an FAQ to address this just to put the matter to rest as it was ruled differently in 8th. For now though, I’m going to tap this sign I made:

Space Marines – How does the melta bomb Stratagem interact with exploding hits?

Let’s start by looking at the Stratagem itself:

Use this Stratagem in the Fight phase, when an ADEPTUS ASTARTES MELTA BOMB unit from your army is selected to fight. Select one model in that unit; that model can only make one attack this phase, and must target an enemy VEHICLE unit with that attack, but if a hit is scored, that unit suffers 2D3 mortal wounds and the attack sequence ends

Unfortunately there’s not really a clear answer on this based on the Stratagem’s current wording that I can find; however some application of the rules we do have there’s a few routes. Let’s take a look at an example of an exploding melee hits ability:

While the Assault Doctrine is active for your army, each time a model in this unit makes a melee attack, an unmodified hit roll of 6 scores 1 additional hit.

So how do we resolve the potential extra hit? Based on some back-and-forth about this on the Reddit and Discord, here are a few ways you might resolve this:

  • Route 1: The attack sequence ends so the new hit generated from this attack does nothing and ends there. This doesn’t quite align with the FAQ on extra hits, though – that causes them to be separate attacks.
  • Route 2: With that in mind, the second hit exists as an attack except it has no weapon profile or target so it just sort of does nothing. Honestly if this was a video game this sort of error would cause the game to get stuck here.
  • Route 3: “the can only make one attack this phase” portion of the rule prevents the additional hits rule from working because they are more attacks and the model is only allowed to make one. This doesn’t perfectly square with how splitting off extra hits into a separate attack sequence normally works though.

After some discussion on our discord, Pendulin finally spotted a subtlety that we believe gives the true interpretation here. While the stratagem modifies how your attack works, it doesn’t stop you going through the normal pre-attack sequence of selecting a weapon. Therefore, although the attack is special and will quickly end if you hit, under the hood you are still making it with a specific weapon, which allows the following:

  • Our Favourite Route: Before making the attack, you still choose a weapon for it. If an extra hit is generated, it is resolved as a normal hit with this weapon.

One key aspect though is that it was generally agreed that there’s no rule supported interpretation for any extra mortal wound damage being inflicted.

Last Updated: 2021-09-03 GW FAQ Here

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