Ruleshammer: Mailbag 001

Although we love Warhammer 40,000, the game’s complexity can be daunting, particularly for newer players. In Ruleshammer, we look at the nuances of the game’s rules and how they affect gameplay, clearing up potential issues and helping make sense of some of the game’s less common interactions. In today’s Ruleshammer, Rob “Vre’kais” Chilton is answering some mailbag questions that have come up since he started writing Ruleshammer articles.

This is the first in a series of posts that will strive to answer questions submitted from readers. The first batch of questions are small, and some of them were jokes submitted during testing, but I think these cover some important rules interactions.

Submitted by Confused Player: Regarding the -1 to Hit/Cover Bonus Rules that Raven Guard, Alpha Legion and some other armies possess against attacks from outside 12″.

“My friend says that [the] minus to hit caused by special abilities like this only work if the shooting unit is more than 12” away and don’t work if one model of the unit is within 12″. I’m thinking that the rule is for every model, not unit. Who is right ?”

The wording of these abilties varies. Lets look at the Raven Guard Chapter Tactic first:

Shadow Masters: When resolving an attack made with a ranged weapon against a unit with with this tactic by a model that is more than 12″ away, that unit is treated as having the benefit of cover to its saving throw, and if that unit is not a VEHICLE and is entirely on or within a terrain feature, subtract 1 from the hit roll. [Codex: Space Marines, Pg. 175]

The “by a model” is the important part here, and part of what makes this rule question quite complex to resolve. In order to resolve this correctly, the shooting player would need to resolve all their attacks with the models more than 12″ away first, and the Raven Guard player would get cover against those attacks. Then resolve the attacks made by the models at 12″ or less, to which the Raven Guard player would not get cover. I’ll explore some of the weirder parts of the Raven Guard chapter tactic in a future post.

Important Note: The range check only happens once, when selecting the unit to shoot with; this is because range checks happen when selecting units and targets; range is not rechecked when resolving attacks and you resolve attacks for the entire unit before moving on to your next unit. We covered this in detail in our article on ranged attacks.

Lets check the Alpha Legion Trait as it does differ slightly (the Admech- Stygies VIII Dogma is also identical);

Hidden in Plain Sight: Your opponent must subtract 1 from hit rolls that target units with this trait/dogma if they are more than 12″ away. [Codex: Chaos Space Marines, Pg. 163] [See Also: Codex: Adeptus Mechanicus Pg. 95]

This one does not include the “by a model” line, owing to older rules templating, and while it might seem a little ambiguous it works in a similar way to the Raven Guard ability. You would need to roll for the models more than 12″ away from the nearest model with -1 to hit, and then roll for the nearer onces with no modifiers. Again though this doesn’t change mid attack though because the measurement only happens once when declaring targets.

Submitted by “Chris”: Regarding measuring distances.

How far is 6″ really?

Okay so I can be fairly certain this was a joke however I’m going to run with this question to discuss two parts of the game that are often/occasionally measured incorrectly.

3″ Range of Objectives

Objectives have a 3″ range in almost every mission, but the rules don’t really provide a clear definition of an objective marker. GW have sold and showcased objective models in the past such as Ammo Crates, Comms Arrays and more these are to make objectives more narrative based than to make using them any easier. They’ve also occasionally printed cardboard objective markers with the special edition versions of Chapter Approved. Here’s the main issue though:

In the base rules, Objectives are a point on the board, and they don’t have a base.

Every measurement in 40k is from base to base, or base to hull. Except for objectives, which are actually centre to base. Some people may have already come across games where people are using 6″ diameter circles rather than tokens to represent objectives, this is perhaps the most effective way to be sure if a model is within the 3″. It doesn’t need to be wholly within, just within, however if an objective is contested then ONLY the models within are counted, not the rest of the model’s unit. On the subject of counting models lets take a quick look at the “Objective Secured” rules for a moment.

If your army is Battle-forged, all Troops units in <FACTION> Detachments gain this ability. Such a unit that is within range of an objective marker (as specified in the mission) controls that objective marker even if there are more enemy models within range of that objective marker. If an enemy unit within range of the same objective marker has a similar ability, then the objective marker is controlled by the player who has the most models within range of it as normal. [Most Codexes]

At first glance of these rules it appears that troops are the only model that counts when contesting an objective. However that is only the case so long as only one player has troops within range. If both players have troops on the objective then it’s controlled by “the player who has the most models with range of it as normal”. The two abilities cancel each other out and what ever non-troop backup the unit has on the point counts again.

Note that if you’re playing in the ITC Tournament Format, objectives are measured from the closest point on the edge of the objective marker to the closest point on your model’s base, so if an objective marker has a size-usually the size of a 40mm base, or 1.5″-you will be measuring to the edge of that object. In tournament play, this leads to “objective mats” that are measured to give you clear visual confirmation on whether you are within 3″ of the edge of the objective (touching any part of the mat), or within 3″ of the centre (touching the inner circle on the objective mat).

Not on sale. Yet.

Setting Up More than 9″ Away After the Game Has Started Abilities (previously known as “Deep Strike”)

This doesn’t come up in every game, but often enough. It is important to note that ‘more than 9″ from the nearest enemy model’ is not the same as 9″. When does this matter?

  • Charges. When making a charge move with a unit that has been deployed in this manner, you always need to roll at least a 9 or higher for your charge distance on the 2D6 to because a roll of 8 would leave your models more than 1″ away, as you had to have started from a point that was more than 9″ away. This is fairly well known and not often played incorrectly.

  • Range-based abilities. Abilities that kick in at half range on ranged weapons with 18″ guns are not active. The prime example of this are Tau Fusion Blasters, which have 18″ range and at half distance has a Melta-like rule, allowing you to roll 2D6 and pick the highest result for damage. This weapon will not be within half range of any enemy targets after setting up.

These are not every game mistakes, they’re not even 1% of game mistakes, but measuring accurately can make or break a game.

I hope this article has adequately answered the submitted questions. If you want to ask a question for a future article in this series you can submit them here, you can also join the discussion on these questions and all our articles on Reddit here. Or drop us a note in the comments below or email us at