Ruleshammer Retrospective: Bullet Points, Glossaries, and Rare Rules

Welcome to Ruleshammer! This week I’m looking at some of the more… frustrating issues with 9th Edition with a dash of hope and optimism for 10th… hopefully. Remember the banner below will take you to the Ruleshammer 9th Edition Compendium, for all the questions I’ve answered this edition!

This article will not be a rant, honest. Okay maybe a slight rant. I can have one per edition surely? Okay one on this website (rather than Discord) per edition. Okay one I actually acknowledge as a rant. A little one. Maybe a series of little rants.

Bullet points, the Glossary, and Rare Rules

9th debuted with these 3 new shiny features that honestly on the surface, and even 90% of the time were useful and great. However as the edition wore on cracks did in my opinion start to form.

Bullet Points

A lot of rules in 9th edition are summarised with a neat little box of bullet points. Here’s the issue though, if those little boxes could accurately summarise the WHOLE rule in fewer words, why not just use those words in the first place? Why have a long winded way to explain a thing, followed by the shorter better way of explaining the exact same thing. The trick is that the bullet points often don’t actually explain the rule in the same way or to the same interpretation as the prose. Information, sometimes critical information, was lost or in some even rarer cases they were perhaps more accurate.

For example the Obscuring rule says this about 18+ wound models and Aircraft:

AIRCRAFT models, and models with a Wounds (W) characteristic of 18 or more, are visible and can be targeted even if this terrain feature is in-between it and the firing model (note that the reverse is not true).

but the bullet point says

AIRCRAFT and models with W characteristic of 18+ can be seen normally.

The prose of the rule implied a that those models were essentially always visible, and the bullet point implied that you check visibility as normal. A designer commentary later we know the bullet point was correct (though oddly the wording for Obscuring was never changed).

The bullet points weren’t all bad, but they didn’t always quite meet expectations.

Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

The Glossary & Rare Rules

Let’s start with the good: These sections did a few massively positive things compared to 8th edition. It created a place for questions that should be game wide to be answered, where as in 8th the faction that asked about an interaction the most might get an answer in their FAQ document, and hours of debate would be had on if that answer applied to all similar abilities. Or how similar abilities had to be before it did. It was chaos. Secondly they for the most part eased the transition from 8th to 9th language, though I’d have almost liked that to have been stated as the intent of a few of them. Something we already know won’t be as necessary in 10th edition due to every faction getting an index. No terminology differences between the core rules and the factions to patch over.

There are downsides though. The Glossary looks like a glossary, but isn’t actually one. I say this because it contains entirely new information contained nowhere else in the rules. Things like AP not being modifiable below 0, glossary. Various definitions for or extra information on what an Aura is or does. The rule that stops automatically successful rolls from triggering effects that happen on certain dice rules, that’s in there. None of this is in the core rules, in fact the Glossary itself isn’t even included in the Free version of the Core Rules PDF. It really should be. As a lot of the contents just aren’t things you can work out from the rules, it’s extra information tacked on at the end.

There were entries in there that in my opinion were clearly designed to help convert 8th edition abilities to the new terminology that were so often misunderstood or applied to things they weren’t meant to, this one especially.

Move normally: Rules that refer to move/moves/moving normally are the same thing as making a Normal Move, e.g. a rule that states ‘instead of moving this unit normally’ means ‘instead of making a Normal Move with this unit’. If a rule simply tells you to make a move as if it were the Movement phase, but does not specify what kind of move is being made, it is a Normal Move.

So many players confused this entry as saying that essentially all mentions of the word move were to be taken as “normal move”. An interpretation that leads to more questions very quickly, such as if you apply this logic to the breachable terrain trait.

INFANTRY, BEASTS and SWARM units can move through this the walls, girders, chains and foliage of this terrain feature without impediment.

If this rule only meant Normal move, then Charging through Ruin walls wouldn’t be allowed any more.

Rare Rules on the other hand started out with such promise. A key set of explanations for a decent number of ability interactions from day one, excellent. I think again their biggest issue was that they were often trying to account for abilities from two editions in one answer. The amount of debate about the specific wording use in the Fight First/Last rule was immense and divisive. I breathed a significant sigh of relief when the multiple PAGE designer commentary finally put the issue to rest at last, and with the simplest state that Fight Order had been in for quite some time (long time readers may be aware of my continued efforts to figure out Fight Order over the last two editions, with varied sucess).

Also it was highly amusing that every GT book would print the current set of Rare Rules up until whenever it went to the printers, and then be released around the same time as new Rare Rules were added to the online FAQs.

Hopes for 10th

As easily as I can sit and complain about some of the things that frustrated me about these sections, they still were massive leaps in communicating the rules and it was far better to have the answers than not have them. I’m hoping to see 10th iterate on these ideas and create something perhaps more accessible and perhaps not wait to explain quite as many terms until after the main rules.

I’m also not suggesting that bullet points be entire done away with; there were plenty of great uses of them in the book. If anything they bullet pointed too many things in 9th. The Breachable terrain trait above is one sentence long and had a bullet point beneath it of almost equal length. Just not necessary!

I’m enthused for Indexes, not having any period of awkward translation takes a lot of pressure off a future Glossary or Rare Rule section if they exist in 10th.

As 9th draws to a close Ruleshammer will try to focus on other games for the coming months, but we need your questions! If you have any Age of Sigmar Questions or Kill Team questions please do send them in via the usual form!